Is this weird for you?” Anne Hathaway asked Les Miserables star Hugh Jackman Tuesday night from the podium at Cipriani Wall Street, where the Jean Valjean actor was honored by the Museum of the Moving Image.
“I was thinking this has to be so different for you cause you’re usually the one entertaining us,” Hathaway said. You’re usually the one singing and dancing like you’re possessed by Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire and the entire Rat Pack combined, but tonight you’re in the chair, my friend, and I know you’re naturally modest, so please take this because I cannot think of anyone else who deserves tonight more.”
Before the speeches, we corned the good-natured actor. He’d just done a dizzying round of publicity for the film and attended a round of receptions, luncheons and premieres.
Doesn’t he ever get tired? He admitted he did but didn’t look it in his elegant tuxedo and perfectly tousled curly hair. “They just wind me up and send me out.”
He added that the experience of being honored by Museum of the Moving Image Salute was “overwhelming and humbling,” especially when he looked at the list of previous honorees that included Dustin Hoffman, Robert De Niro, Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks and Alec Baldwin.
And as to whether it seems strange to be honored at the relatively young age of 44, he replied, “I’m actually 64. You didn’t know that?”
After that it was two hours of movie clips and often hilarious and touching tributes and introductions by Deborra-Lee Furness, Mike Nichols, Christopher Nolan, Eddie Redmayne, Liev Schreiber, Rachel Dratch and Rachel Weisz.
Schreiber, who played Victor Creed in “X-Man Origins: Wolverine, said of Jackman, said, “After a brief sampling of the training regiment to sustain a career like Hugh’s, I began to wonder how wise it was for an actor of my age and statue to go galloping through his golden years as a giant game cat. That and the fact that no one bothered to write me into the sequel,” he said. “Working with you is a joy. You brought high art and full frontal nudity to a genre that I never imagined could sustain it.”
“Are you crazy? A mutant with claws? You cannot do that,” Hugh’s wife Deborra-Lee Furness told him about taking the role of Wolverine. “It was the one time that I was wrong. And I have to say our children’s college educations have come compliments of ‘Wolverine.’”
Weisz went into an elaborate explanation of a scene in “The Fountain,” where Jackman’s character confronts his impending death after four centuries of life (don’t ask), only to find out that’s not the movie clip that’s to be shown. “I’ve just been told it’s us making out in the bath, which has absolutely nothing to do with the moment I just described. But we had a lot of fun too.”
Eddie Redmayne said, “I’ve been asked by pretty much every journalist I’ve met over the past two weeks is what does it feel to be carried in Hugh Jackman’s biceps? My girlfriend also asked me that. I can tell you it feels pretty damn good.”
Rachel Dratch, with a terrible Australian accent, “Acting, singing, dancing, he’s a triple threat. We’ve also learned tonight he’s Australian, and that Australian accent isn’t easy to do. Just listen to me. It’s hell. Yet Hugh Jackman does it every day of his life.”
Hathaway gushed, “It’s surprising I’m the first one to mention this, but he’s gorgeous. Like really gorgeous. Like People’s sexiest-man alive gorgeous. And I just really want to thank you as a woman because I think I’m speaking for a lot of people when I say the first time we saw you as Wolverine in that three sizes too-small tank top, which just couldn’t contain your mountainous, quivering, gently manscaped pectorals,” and like “legions of others, I became an overnight diehard comic book lover.”
On a serious note, she added, “You were our leader. You set the bar. And any luck with this film has gotten or will get is due in no small part to you. And I’ll be damned if you weren’t an absolute ball to work with. I never knew dying could be so much fun.”
In Jackman’s self-deprecating and hilarious speech, he spoke about how much he loved being in New York this time of the year. “I love the holidays. I love being here at the holidays,” he said.
“I don’t really want much. I’m a pretty low-key guy. I just really want pretty much what I want every year, which is for a movie, with me starring in it, to open up Christmas day with tv ads, billboards, posters, maybe nights like this and awards just to top it off, but you know, low-key, simple, very simple stuff.”
“But it is an honor to be the 27th, and if my calendar is right, the last recipient of this award, and I’m pretty sure of those 27 I’m the only one to receive it for playing the same character in 15 movies.”
At the end of the evening Hathaway got on a chair and took an Iphone picture of Jackman posing with well wishers.
And true to his nice-guy image, Jackman was nearly the last person to leave, and only after he posed with every person with a cellphone or camera who wanted a picture.