LOS ANGELES - Hugh Jackman is ready to sink his claws into Comic-Con again.
The 44-year-old actor is returning to San Diego this week for the 44th annual Comic-Con International pop-culture convention to hype "The Wolverine," his Japan-set "X-Men" spin-off opening July 25 that marks the actor's sixth time playing the iconic comic book character that catapulted him to stardom in 2000.
In a recent interview with The Associated Press, the versatile "Les Miserables" star talked about returning to Comic-Con to face fans enraged by 2009's "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," teaming up with the original "X-Men" cast for the upcoming time-bending sequel "X-Men: Days of Future Past" and getting naked again as Wolverine on the big screen:
This publicity photo released by Twentieth Century Fox shows Hugh Jackman as Logan/Wolverine in a scene from the film, 'The Wolverine.' The film opens July 25, 2013.
AP: It took four years for "The Wolverine" to come to fruition. How do you feel about finally being able to show it off at Comic-Con?
Jackman: I love it. I love the title. It was actually (former director) Darren Aronofsky's idea, but it's one we - including the studio - stuck with because it sends a signal that we're not making a movie that's loaded with a lot of other mutants. You're actually gonna get to know this one. I think it's time. This story is one of the greatest, and that's the reason it's one of the fan favorites.
AP: As much as fans can be passionate at Comic-Con, they can also be equally critical. They didn't love "X-Men Origins: Wolverine." How do you feel about hearing from them this week?
Jackman: I'm never afraid of that. I think the fans know I'm so grateful and very blessed to play the part. I love them. We try our hardest to get everything right, and I'm happy to hear from them. I learn from them. One of the main things I hear from fans all the time is we don't see enough of the berserker rage, and I really took that to heart because, to me, that is one of the key things I love about Logan.
AP: For everything that's different about this Wolverine film, there's once again a scene that finds Logan naked in a giant tub, even though the circumstances this time are very different from past "X-Men" movies. Is this something you're stipulating in your contract now?
Jackman: Look, all I say is it has to be a minimum of a minute. It's only a minute. That's all. I love a bit of nudity. It's a funny scene. The movie is darker in tone, and more restrained in a way. As long as we can get away with it, it's nice to have those fun moments. In all seriousness, no, it's not in my contract.
AP: "X-Men: Days of Future Past" will be your seventh time playing this character. How long do you think you can keep going as Wolverine?
Jackman: You may find it surprising to hear, but I'm loving it and feeling rejuvenated by it. For me, and I'm well aware there's way greater powers at play than me and my decision, it's more about: Do I still have something to offer to it? Is there something different we can explore? Is there a reason to tell another story? Without that, I won't do it. Secretly, I know it'd be like achieving peace in the Middle East, but I would love a way for all the Marvel characters to come together.
AP: What's it been like reuniting on "Days of Future Past" with everyone from the original film? You filmed it in the '90s!
Jackman: I think (original "X-Men" director) Bryan (Singer) really configured the image of comic book movies with that thing. Having him back is really exciting. The first month of shooting, because Patrick (Stewart) and Ian (McKellen) were off doing a play, was literally all the old actors all together. It was like a reunion, and then all of a sudden it shifted, and in came this younger ensemble of incredible actors (from "X-Men: First Class"). I just get to be there every day working opposite all of them.
AP: Do you ever see yourself passing on the role of Wolverine to a younger actor?
Jackman: Sure, Wolverine is like Bond. These roles are greater than I am as an actor. It will always live on and outlive me. It'll be passed on, and I'll be in the old people's home, showing my old movies and telling anyone who will listen that I was much better than whoever is playing it now. In all seriousness, it's the way it should be. I would be sad to think if I stopped playing it, Wolverine wouldn't be seen. It's too good a part.