Hugh Jackman is known for his iconic role as Wolverine (X-Men Movies), the mutant with blades emerging from his knuckles.
He’s also movies such as Les Miserables, The Greatest Showman, The Prestige, Australia, Prisoners and many more.
But like many achievers, his challenges are in the dark.
For example, when Jackman was 14-years-old, he hit a serious growth spurt - growing an entire foot in one year. One day, during a cricket match, he stretched up to catch a ball, twisted and passed out.
He had ripped out all the muscles from the base of his spine.
Since his bones were rapidly-growing, his muscles couldn’t keep up. This left him with an injury that took two years of rehab. This forced him to build his core strength –later giving him an advantage on Broadway and in the more physical roles like X-men.
But X-men was not smooth parasailing either.
When the first X-men movie rolled out, Jackman didn’t even get the part as Wolverine. Russell Crowe was the director’s first pick but he turned it down - so they hired Dougray Scott instead. But due to a scheduling kerfuffle and a motorcycle accident he dropped out.
That’s when Jackman was called in.
At that point, the crew was already four weeks into filming. So he felt behind and uncomfortable with all the pressure to catch up - sensing his anxiety, actor Ian McKellen (who played Magneto) pulled him aside and told him,
Your stuff is good.
Even if it feels uncomfortable,
that can sometimes be right.
He’s kept this white pearl of wisdom with him over the years:
If I look back, I think of some of my more successful things,
[They] have been things I’ve been most nervous about.
And probably most unsure of when I began.
When he was hustling with Les Miserables, a similar anxiety swept over him. He went to a friend for help, who told him:
Embrace the fear. The fear is good.
It’s got you where you are today. It makes you work.
The fear sometimes makes you work really hard.
[And when you walk out on stage, thank that fearful side, and then let your confident and strong side take the stage instead.]
Because both sides have their place.
And serve a purpose.