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— Ryan J. Downey

Wolverine's got sharp claws, heightened senses, unbreakable bones, a mutant healing power and, on the set of this summer's "X-Men 2," just one rule: don't touch the hair.

Three years ago, then-unknown actor Hugh Jackman had some help with Wolverine's pointy hairdo and shaggy sideburns, but for the sequel to 2000's "X-Men" the 34-year-old Australian has sworn off fake hair.

"This is all Hugh Jackman," he bragged, pointing to his dome while relaxing between takes in Vancouver, British Columbia. "Let me tell you, this may look ridiculous to you now, but when I'm not in uniform it looks particularly ridiculous. If you're going around Vancouver, [you might see] my stunt double and my stand-in, all with these very silly muttonchops going on. And when this [hair] doesn't have two cans of hairspray in it, I look like Moe from the Three Stooges. It's all just exactly the same length. So it is me, uh, sacrificing for my art."

 'X-Men 2' Photos
Director Bryan Singer's take on the comic book tale of mutants and their struggle to coexist in a world that hates and fears them was a smash. "X-Men 2" reunites many of the first movie's cast members — Jackman, Halle Berry, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Famke Janssen and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos among them — while introducing new characters, like Alan Cumming as Nightcrawler.

With Wolverine being the most popular character in the 30-year history of the "X-Men," it was no surprise that Jackman was the film version's breakout star. "X2" promises an even juicer role for Wolverine, including a detailed look into his mysterious past and even a little romance. There's so much demand for Wolvie, he may even get his own movie. But more on that later.

 "It is bigger, actually, in every way." — Hugh Jackman
"I've got a much bigger trailer and I've got an entourage now," joked Jackman, who's made two romantic comedies and an action flick since his "X-Men" debut. "It is bigger, actually, in every way. Fox has given [the movie] more money. The action is twice as good, twice as much. I think it's more intense. My character certainly kicks some ass — a lot more butt kicking than I did in the first one, which is always good. It's good therapy. And I think it's funnier. I have to say it's a better movie than the first one. You get to explore the characters in a deeper way and the story in a deeper way."

And there's nothing like a little mortal peril to kick off such exploration. "It starts with an assassination attempt on the president by a mutant," Jackman revealed. "So the whole world of the film is automatically ramped up to another level, where every mutant, whether it's Magneto [or Professor] Xavier, every mutant is wanted, to be round up and registered and corralled. And there's almost a war going on with the humans.

"And you cut to my character," he continued. "[I'm] going off to Alberta and going through the woods to find out about my past."




NEXT: Wolverine's mysterious past; Famke Janssen's unbridled passion ...
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Photo: Kerry Hayes/SMPSP


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