Hugh Jackman contacted Florian Zeller directly to ask for a role in ‘The Son’.
The 53-year-old actor stars in Zeller’s prequel to the Oscar-winning movie ‘The Father’ and yearned to play the role of Peter as soon as he read the script.
Speaking at a press conference at the Venice Film Festival, Hugh said: “When I read ‘The Son’ I had a feeling like a fire in my gut. It’s a scary feeling to have, but it’s beautiful. You rarely get it as an actor, that this part is right for you at this part of your life and you must get it.
“I said, I don’t know if you’re dancing with someone on this, and I don’t want to cut in on that dance.”
‘The Son’ has been adapted from one of Zeller’s stage plays and centres on 17-year-old Nicholas (Zen McGrath), whose growing struggle with his mental health begins to devastate the lives of his father Peter (Jackman) and mother Kate (Laura Dern). Vanessa Kirby also stars as Peter’s new partner Beth and Nicholas considers her arrival responsible for his deteriorating condition.
Zeller hadn’t met with any other actor and decided to cast ‘The Greatest Showman’ star immediately after a Zoom meeting.
The 43-year-old filmmaker explained: “After 8 minutes I offered him the part. I felt something really strong about why he was connected to the story, and that we could explore really emotional territories. And it was the best decision I ever made, because from then on it was the most fruitful journey.”
Meanwhile, Dern felt that the film’s release was timely as a result of the mental health “epidemic” coming out of the coronavirus pandemic.
She said: “It’s frightening. Even when you feel powerless, even when you feel alone in shame, guilt and blame, you can turn to so many who have been there before and may advise you. We all long to feel community in this larger conversation we must be having about mental health.”