As The Wolverine Unleashed DVD and Blu-Ray hits stores, we caught up with director James Mangold for an exclusive chat to talk about his blockbuster film starring Hugh Jackman. The extended edition is a director’s cut and shows even more of the awesomeness than was released in theaters. Mangold talks up the joys of having a wider audience see more of his great work, and also chimes in on the once-in-a-lifetime moment that is Hugh Jackman as Wolverine.
Mangold also dishes that final scene that had X-Men fans abuzz and what it was like to literally hand the Wolverine baton on to Bryan Singer for his X-Men: Days of Future Past.
Movie Fanatic: For you as a filmmaker, how is it in this age of director’s cuts and extended editions to have more of your film viewed, like with The Wolverine Unleashed now out on DVD and Blu-Ray?
James Mangold: It’s thrilling. People are really involved in filmmaking and the process. There is a really large audience of people making their own movies and interested in how movies are made. Part of the joy of offering alternative cuts and deleted scenes has always been that you’re allowing people to experience the world larger, wider, richer than they might have seen in the tighter theatrical version. That is nourishing me because it allows the audience to understand what the process is of making movies.
Movie Fanatic: What bonus features on this Blu-Ray and DVD release are you particularly excited for people to see?
James Mangold: We have so much additional material in the extended edition that I love. The behind-the-scenes documentaries have become so sophisticated. The crew shooting the B-roll that becomes the documentary footage for these pieces have become so good at capturing the vibe on set that it’s a terrific window for people who are interested in looking behind the camera. There’s so many wonderful crafts people at work on a movie. For me, when I was young following filmmakers and learning about movie making, I wish that there was this material to learn from. There is a lot of inspiration that can be gotten from these features.
Movie Fanatic: There is something truly astounding about Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. It may be hard to quantify, but what do you think it is about him and this role that is so magical?
James Mangold: The magic of something that is right, whether it’s love or an actor in a role, defies easy description. I think that Hugh and his level of commitment to this character and continuing to evolve and dig deeper has been a revelation. His commitment physically through the bodywork he does is breathtaking. I also think it is such a wonderful character. The reality is that Logan is a jaundiced character with such an ambivalent relationship with society and relationships. To even right wrongs, he doesn’t see it the same way as the Dudley Do-Rights out there. Audiences really enjoy that cynicism. And at the same time, Hugh Jackman the man has so much heart that I think that he balances that cynicism of character with a goodness that you see deep inside. It gives the audience comfort and excitement. They dig his darkness, but they know that he would never hurt them. He would be their friend. That kind of connectedness with a role we’ve seen with Clint Eastwood and Dirty Harry and Sean Connery in early Bond films. It’s a natural perfect fit.
Movie Fanatic: Your work has been so diverse over the years, from Copland to Girl, Interrupted to Walk the Line to The Wolverine. Was that always something that was a conscious effort?
James Mangold: I always look for something fresh to do. That is interesting to me. I’m always looking to compliment the last movie. Both Copland and Heavy, I wrote at the same time. Both have similar themes in different genres. Girl, Interrupted, I also wrote and was an escape from Copland. After making a movie that featured nothing but sweaty macho men, I was deliriously anxious to make a movie that featured nothing but women. After Girl, Interrupted and its darkness, the joy and lightness of Kate and Leopold was much needed for me. Each choice makes a lot of sense for me. The simplest answer is I feel lucky. It was never conscious. But, it was more the world was letting me.
Movie Fanatic: Lastly, the final scene that features Ian McKellen’s Magneto and Patrick Stewart’s Professor X visiting Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine has got X-Men fans abuzz. Was that a unique experience for you to film a scene for your movie that serves as a hand-off to another director in Bryan Singer for X-Men: Days of Future Past?
James Mangold: It was really fun. Honestly, it was a great lesson in making a movie that was much lighter on plot and much heavier on character, which The Wolverine was, to do this baton at the end that was heavy on plot. Ian McKellen coming in, being one of the great heavies of film, was a thrill. For me, it was just a thrill that I got to work with Patrick and Ian, along with Hugh, which was an honor and a thrill. It is something that I am most grateful for.