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While Wolverine can heal himself, Hugh Jackman, 45, is but a mere mortal. Over seven X-Men/Wolverine films and countless sets of razor-sharp claws, the accident-prone Australian has suffered his share of punctures and painful injuries. As the May 23 release of X-Men: Days of Future Past approaches, Yahoo Movies asked Jackman to recount his worst on-set mutant-related traumas. Working from past to present, and body part by body part, he recalled his gory glory days:
Jackman’s worst accident came during the production of the first X-Men, when he was dropping down the side of the exterior of the Statue of Liberty, attached to wires. He had to stop himself from falling but his “wedding tackle,” as they say in Australia, got caught in his harness. “That was pretty brutal,” Jackman said. “I screamed so much, and they kept going because they figured it was me primal-yell emoting.”
2000: Right ear
Also during the original X-Men shoot, Jackman nearly smashed his head during a stunt that had him diving while attached to a wire. He was supposed to fly past the lens, but he went off-course and swung straight into the stationary camera. He turned his head at the last minute, but clipped his right ear. That first shoot was tough, sighed Jackman: “mangled ear, mangled wedding tackle.”
2003: Upper left thigh
Wolverine is known for having more balls than brains — but Jackman’s intimate injuries have repeatedly threatened that delicate balance. Headlines reported the Australian nearly castrated himself — again — on 2003’s X-Men 2, but, according to the actor, his ever-endangered wedding tackle remained intact. He did, however, stab himself much too close for comfort in the upper thigh with his own claws after running down the hall naked in the flashback scene. Having joked to the crew that he wanted a closed set for his nude stunt, his co-workers pranked him as he ran around a corner. “There were like thirty women waving five dollar bills,” he said. “So I came round and I’m laughing and then I went, ‘Oh, no, I’m naked, but I’ve got claws on.’ [He crosses his hands over his zipper.] So it was close enough.”
2003: Left eye
On the set of 2003’s X-Men 2, Jackman overdid the follow-through with his claws and stabbed himself next to his left eye, leaving a still-visible one-inch scar. “That was me just following through and not quite having control of my limbs,” he said. Which reminded him: “I’ve also stabbed other people. Does this count?”
While shooting The Wolverine, there was a critical moment during which Jackman thought he might have broken his neck. One stunt required him to swing from the inside of a speeding bullet train to the outside. However, his neck got caught in the opening while the momentum of his body levered it around and nearly snapped his vertebrae like a pencil. “I just remember hanging up there on the wires and everyone just stops,” says Jackman, “and I got sent home because I was a little in shock about it.” He was sore the next day, but luckily the injury was just muscular.
Suffice it to say, all of these injuries have been hard on Jackman — but they may be even harder on his wife, Deborra-Lee Furness. After the neck incident, Jackman said, “She goes ‘You’ve got a stunt double. Stop. Is this a midlife crisis?’”
Photo credit: 20th Century Fox/Everett