Hugh Jackman’s ‘Prisoners’ Role Taught Him To ‘Prepare For The Worst’

The Oscar-nominated actor studied real-life abduction cases and the physical toll it takes.

As if we needed another example of the extreme lengths that Hugh Jackman will go to bring a role to life, he disappears into Keller Dover, a man driven to the edge when his daughter disappears during on Thanksgiving, along with another girl from the neighborhood.

Dover goes through a haunting transformation, barely sleeping and drinking heavily. The turn developed, as Jackman told MTV News’ Josh Horowitz, from his own research into the families of abduction victims.

“The more I researched this — I read a lot of stories, I saw a lot of videos of endless parents doing those press conferences. It’s happening now. Gosh, the whole Ariel Castro case has just played out in front of us all,” Jackman said. “This stuff goes on. It’s happening right now. Not that I expect people who have been through this to watch the movie — I felt a responsibility to not sensationalize that story, not just do a classic revenge torture thriller, but actually to delve into the realities of it.”

Through this research, Jackman stumbled upon the idea of incorporating sleep deprivation into the character. Both Keller and his wife (Maria Bello) struggle with resting after the disappearance of their daughter, both dealing with the exhaustion in different ways.

But parts didn’t require any research at all, but came from Jackman’s own life. A father himself, Jackman says he tries to always keep a positive outlook on things, but the harsh reality does need to be considered, as his experience with “Prisoners” taught him.

“I want [my children] to go out into the world thinking things will be OK. The harsh reality is that things don’t always turn out OK,” he said. “One line that my character has, which I used to think was a little bit of a glib line when I first read it but keeps resonating with me, is ‘Pray for the best, but prepare for the worst.’ So on some level, be ready. I’m more ready now than I was. That stays with me on a daily basis.”

“Prisoners” is out in theaters now.


Writer/editor for MTV. If it involves cowboys, spies, or hitmen, I'm there. All three would be ideal.
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