The M Interview: Hugh Jackman embraces ageing
Hugh Jackman fans here will remember that when the Australian hunk visited our shores last year to promote X-Men: Days Of Future Past, he had eggs and kaya toast for breakfast at a Ya Kun Kaya Toast cafe in China Square.
When this reporter was part of a video chat with him earlier this year for his movie Chappie, he reminisced about having kaya toast.
So what did I do when I got the chance to meet the star, who turns 47 next week, at Hong Kong's The Peninsula hotel last week for his latest flick Pan? I gave him a jar of kaya, of course, to his great delight.
"This is the stuff I've been telling you about," Jackman told his entourage, laughing, before thanking me and giving me a big bear hug, to my surprise and great delight.
"Hope it won't kill your Wolverine diet," was the only reply I could muster.
"Oh, I'm allowed to indulge every Thursday, so when Thursday comes, this bottle is coming out!" he said.
Looking at the massive and well-cut actor, best known for playing ripped X-Men mutant superhero Wolverine, it's unlikely that the gooey coconut egg jam will do any damage.
We let Ya Kun Kaya Toast in on the Australian actor's joy upon receiving the kaya and their spokesman said: "We are proud to share this rich Singaporean heritage with Hugh Jackman and trust that he'll enjoy the kaya along with his toast."
Jackman was promoting Pan, the swashbuckling origin story of how author J.M. Barrie's beloved Peter Pan got to the fantastical world of pirates, warriors and fairies called Neverland.
Opening here tomorrow, the fantasy adventure flick features Jackman as Blackbeard, a ruthless, vicious buccaneer who has been capturing children for decades to mine for pixum, a very rare gem from which pixie dust is extracted.
In director Joe Wright's new version of the fairy tale, which stars Levi Miller as Peter, Garrett Hedlund as Peter's buddy James Hook and Rooney Mara as warrior Tiger Lily, the purpose of the pixie dust is not to help people fly.
Instead, it grants immortality, something Blackbeard sorely craves.
In reality, ageing is a process Jackman has embraced with open arms.
"I think my personal view on ageing is probably very different from most people," he told M.
"I feel like I'm a much happier person as I grow older. As a younger person, a teenager, I acquired a lot of fears such as the fear of heights and being afraid of the dark."
He shared how he was such a fearful kid that he would not even dare to enter the house on his own after school and would rather wait outside.
Perhaps such negative emotions stemmed from his rough childhood - his mum left the family when he was eight - and Jackman hated the feeling of being scared.
"The fears started to go away as I got older, when I was 15 or 16."
He added, chuckling: "Of course, I don't have as much energy as I used to, but I'm happier."
Growing older also meant having more stability in life, but he is not planning on resting on his laurels despite having already established his Hollywood career.
"I definitely would love a break from working," said Jackman, who has an average of two movies being released each year.
He has finished work on Eddie The Eagle, a biopic of the UK's first ski jumper to enter the Winter Olympics, in which he plays ski coach to Taron Egerton's titular character.
He is also preparing to start work on The Greatest Showman On Earth, where he portrays P.T. Barnum, founder of the Barnum & Bailey Circus.
Then there is his third and final solo outing as Wolverine, in the yet-to-be-titled sequel scheduled for a 2017 release.
"I have a friend in the business who never decides what he wants to do next until he finishes a job. Then he goes, 'now what do I do'?
"It's hard to do that as you are often planning what you need to do next while still on a job," he said, alluding to family commitments.
Jackman has been married to Australian actress Deborra-Lee Furness since 1996. They have two adopted children, a son Oscar, 15, and a daughter Ava, 10.
"I'd like to one day operate from that point of view... to just finish the job and see how it goes.
"That's my goal. I don't know how, if and when I can pull that off," he added, laughing.
Time off for Jackman is to find a little bit of Neverland whenever he can.
"The thing I like about Neverland is the idea of timelessness," he said.
"In the movie, you don't really see the sun rise or set, so you don't feel the days go by... you just feel the timelessness.
"For me, the happiest times are when I feel the world slow down, where I can just be with the kids, cook a meal, not worry about my lines or things I need to do," he said.
"I find it hard to fit everything in and I think that's a common problem (faced by everyone).
"My personal Neverland, my sanctuary, is to just be able to do the things in life without the pressure of time."
My personal Neverland, my sanctuary, is to just be able to do the things in life without the pressure of time.
— Hugh Jackman