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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, January 11, 2002

Movie Scene
Making the right moves in matters of the heart

By Ann Oldenburg
USA Today

Australian actor Hugh Jackman plays a 19th-century duke in "Kate & Leopold," but confesses to being a big romantic in real life.

Miramax Films

In the romantic comedy "Kate & Leopold," Hugh Jackman plays Leopold, a duke from 1876 who travels through time to today's New York City, where he meets and falls for marketing consultant Kate, played by Meg Ryan.

Leopold makes Kate swoon with his old-fashioned manners, outlook on life and sense of romance.

Aussie Jackman, 33, has received a Golden Globe nomination for best actor in a musical or comedy for his work in this classic fish-out-of-water story. He chatted last week about matters of the heart.

Q: What response are you hearing about your character?

A: The funniest thing is reaction from women friends. My God, women say, "You really should be using this in real life." It's glaringly obvious where I'm falling down.

Q: You took etiquette classes, and yet stories describe you as being charming, dignified and kind. How close to Leopold were you before the film?

A: My father will see the movie and say it's all his work. In Australia we're not known for our manners. But my father went to Cambridge and all that, so I knew a lot of it. I kind of understood it, but I understood it from a middle-class perspective. I went to the etiquette coach who worked on a movie called "Sense and Sensibility." What I got from her was an appreciation of the "art" of etiquette. It's not just a set of rules. It's an art form.

Q: Do you think most men — and women — are lacking in manners?

A: I think we're out of practice. Maybe movies like this will help.

Q: What do you think makes a person sexy?

A: I think to me the sexiest people have been ones who are self-confident. If I was analyzing it a little more, an innate knowledge of who they are regardless of faults and limitations. Rock stars are a great example. They have confidence, and everyone's dying for them. I think humor, also.

Q: Are men going to see the movie?

A: I think if anyone tells you the basic plot, it does scream "chick flick." I did the Jay Leno show, and he came into the Green Room and told me he really liked it. So men are seeing it, but studios know the women are making the choices. It is a great date movie. A little warning to the males — do something romantic before the movie; you'll never be able to live up to Leopold after.

Q: You're married to actress Deborra Lee-Furness and have a toddler son, Oscar. Did you woo your own wife in any way that resembled the way Leopold charmed Kate? Your engagement?

A: I did make quite an event out of that. I'm an actor, and I tend to exaggerate. I was doing "Beauty and the Beast" in the theater, and Monday was our day off. I had a mate organize it all. I wanted to present the ring down at the botanical gardens in Melbourne.

We set up a table with linen tablecloth and champagne in this beautiful touch of grass at the lake. I took my wife for a morning walk through the gardens. We came to the setting and she said, "Oh my God, what are they doing, a 'Vogue Living' shoot?"

Then she started to cry, and that ruined all my plans; I'd thought we'd have breakfast first. I said, "Oh my God, I'm going to have to do it." I popped out the ring.

Q: What was the last romantic thing you did?

A: Christmas Eve was pretty romantic. After Oscar went to bed and after our friends had left, we were exhausted and wrapping presents, and I said you gotta call your mum. And while she was out of the room, I poured a bubble bath.

I had about 300 candles set up in the bathroom and brought her a tray with all new bath products. Little things like that. You're doing something romantic and don't expect sex in return.

Q: You sound too good to be true.

A: I have my moments.