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Hugh Jackman: ‘There was a time when I was only getting action films’

On many of Hugh Jackman’s shoots, the most significant things happen away from the camera. One time, an older man sat waiting silently in a corner while Jackman was working, doing crossword and Sudoku puzzles. Every now and then, he would look up at Jackman just to send him a signal. His eyes always conveyed the same thing – approval, support and pride. “He saw everything I ever did. He never said a bad word about anything. A lot of who I am today is because of him,” Jackman told The Guardian in January. The man’s name was Christopher Jackman, Hugh’s father, who died in Australia while Jackman was in London playing a father in his latest movie, The Son.

Jackman frequently uses the same word to describe his role in The Son – personal. The feature film directed by Florian Zeller shook up Jackman’s life because his character, Peter, is facing the same beauty, disorientation and terror that every parent experiences when raising children. In a September 2022 press conference at the Venice Film Festival, Jackman said it was a profoundly affecting role that led him to therapy during the filming. In short, it changed his life. “Because of this film, I can now share my vulnerability with my children and see their relief [when I do]. I’ve thought a lot about my relationship with them and how much you help, push or let go. Being a parent means making mistakes – there is no more humbling role in life.”

At the Venice Film Festival, Zeller says he wasn’t sure Jackman was right for the role at first. Jackman was a permanent fixture on People magazine’s 50 most beautiful people annual list, a celebrated Broadway star, the desirable Wolverine, and a skilled song and dance man. He was everything ordinary mortals envy about Hollywood. Yet Jackman sent Zeller a letter begging him for a lead role in The Son. Before their video call, Zeller had promised himself he would not make an impulsive decision. Eight minutes into the meeting, Zeller offered Jackman the part.

“I don’t usually do this kind of thing. But, for some reason, I wanted and needed this journey. It was the peak of the pandemic, and we were all nervously staying at home. I wasn’t conscious of it back then, but I was probably unraveling threads that had parallels to Peter [in The Son],” said Jackman. His character’s story will resonate with many struggling parents who feel they are always running behind in life, happiness, relationships and professional goals. He is a father caring for two children, a newborn and a depressed teenager from a previous relationship. Fatherhood, everyday fears and mental health are the themes of a film that, for Jackman, “is about humanity.” Although critics lambasted The Son, they mostly praised Jackman’s performance.

Jackman doesn’t care about the critics and often says he doesn’t read the reviews. And to think the only thing Jackman’s father was worried about when Hugh set out to become an actor was his son’s sensitivity. “He taught me really great values. He was never really interested in things like fame and money. He was always encouraging about education and treating people well and keeping your word,” Jackman told The Guardian.

When Hugh was eight years old, his mother left the family, but he fell in love with the theater during trips to visit his mother in England. He began to step on stages and movie sets after his initial dream of becoming an international journalist fizzled out. In one of his earliest roles, Jackman appeared in the 1995 Australian television series Correlli, which also starred his future wife, Deborra-Lee Furness. They have been together for over 25 years, overcoming trials like his recurring bouts with skin cancer and Deborra’s two miscarriages. The couple has two adopted children.

Hugh Jackman as Wolverine.
Hugh Jackman as Wolverine.

Jackman often describes his wife as the rock of his life, who kept him steady when his career leaped from TV to the big screen. A huge screen – Jackman made his movie debut as Wolverine in the blockbuster X-Men (Bryan Singer, 2000). Despite all the sequels, Jackman’s prodigious talent helped him avoid typecasting. “I’ve never felt trapped,” he said. “There was a little period, in 2003 or 2004, I think, when I remember, I was like, ‘Oh, I’m only getting action films.’ It was always a surprise to me, just like the musicals were a surprise. I never felt that I deliberately was choosing things just to make sure that I wasn’t sending a message like ‘I’m the action guy,’ ‘I’m a musical guy.’ I’ve always thrived on the variety, but I’m more instinctive now about my choices. It’s not so planned out and never have I had a more glaring example of that than this,” he said, in reference to his role in The Son. Jackman will also return as Wolverine in the upcoming movie Deadpool 3.

Jackman’s future is wide open because he’s already proven he can do it all – superhero mega-productions and sophisticated films with diverse filmmakers like Christopher Nolan, Denis Villeneuve and Woody Allen. He can host award shows, dance, and star in successful global concert tours. But there are few things like children to keep a person grounded. According to IMDb, Jackman once overheard his son Oscar telling a friend, “Enough about my dad, all right? The truth is he’s nothing like Wolverine. He’s not cool, he’s not tough, he’s nothing like that.” He certainly seems to be a better man than his most famous character. But like everyone, he had his moments of rebellion. Raised in a Christian family, Jackman drifted away from his faith for a time. He has also extinguished the “explosive rage” he felt as an adolescent and is now known for his kindness. A guy accompanied by his wife and family on shoots, according to IMDb, which also quotes him as saying, “The best is a handwritten card. I don’t know where some of my awards are, but I can tell you exactly where those cards are. I treasure them most.” And: Acting is something I love. But I don’t think it’s any greater challenge than teaching eight-year-olds or any other career. I try not to make it more important than it is.”

At the Venice Film Festival press conference, Jackman again emphasized the importance of a work-life balance. He compared his job to coaching a professional soccer team. “It’s a very insecure job as an artist. You don’t really know where things are heading. You don’t sign on for a job and know that you’ve got the job for five years.” This is probably not true of Jackman’s career anymore between all the film and stage roles. But he always turns to the values learned from his father. “The journey as an actor is a personal journey. I was more interested in the bigger questions in life than the idea of being famous or successful.” Chris Jackman surely made mistakes in raising Hugh – everyone does, after all. But his son is still living out those values. What’s not to be proud of?

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How Emergence of AI-Generated Virtual Twins Is Revolutionizing The Fashion Modeling

Emergence of AI-Generated Virtual Twins

The Voice Of EU | In the ever-evolving landscape of fashion modeling, a groundbreaking innovation has emerged: the creation of virtual twins through the power of artificial intelligence (AI). This technological advancement has already made waves in the industry, exemplified by the case of Alexsandrah, a renowned model who has seamlessly integrated her AI counterpart into her professional endeavors. The implications of this development are far-reaching, reshaping not only the creative landscape but also the economic and ethical dimensions of the fashion world.

Alexsandrah, known professionally by her first name, stands as a pioneer in this new era of modeling. She proudly shares that her digital twin mirrors her appearance “even down to the baby hairs,” blurring the lines between reality and simulation. This symbiotic relationship between the human model and her AI counterpart signifies a transformative shift propelled by AI technology.

Advocates of AI-generated modeling argue that its increasing prevalence promotes diversity and inclusivity within the fashion industry. By showcasing a wider range of body types and underrepresented demographics, AI models empower consumers to make more informed purchasing decisions, ultimately reducing fashion waste stemming from product returns. Moreover, the cost-effectiveness of digital modeling presents economic opportunities for both companies and individuals seeking to leverage this innovative technology.

However, amidst the promise of progress, critics voice concerns regarding the potential ramifications of AI modeling. The displacement of human models, makeup artists, and photographers looms large, raising questions about job security and ethical implications. Furthermore, there is apprehension that unsuspecting consumers may be deceived into mistaking AI models for real individuals, undermining transparency and authenticity in the industry.

London-based model Alexsandrah has a twin, but not in the way you’d expect

London-based model Alexsandrah has a twin, but not in the way you’d expect

Sara Ziff, a former fashion model and founder of the Model Alliance, underscores the pressing need to address these concerns. She highlights the risk of distorting racial representation and marginalizing models of color through the uncritical adoption of AI technology. Indeed, data indicates that women, especially those from underrepresented groups, are disproportionately affected by the advent of AI in modeling, further exacerbating existing disparities in the industry.

The case of iconic denim brand Levi Strauss & Co. illustrates the nuanced stance that companies are taking towards AI-generated models. While initial experiments with AI models aimed to diversify representation, backlash prompted a reevaluation of their approach. Levi reaffirmed its commitment to live photo shoots and human models, signaling a cautious approach to AI integration in its operations.

Despite varying responses from industry players, the demand for AI-generated models continues to grow. Companies like, founded by Michael Musandu, are at the forefront of this technological revolution. Musandu emphasizes the complementary nature of AI models, envisioning them as supplements rather than replacements for traditional photo shoots. He underscores the potential of AI to enhance the shopping experience, reduce product returns, and create new job opportunities within the industry.

The journey towards ethical AI implementation in fashion modeling is fraught with challenges, as highlighted by the experiences of models like Yve Edmond. Concerns regarding consent, compensation, and labor rights underscore the need for robust regulatory frameworks. The Model Alliance advocates for legislative measures to safeguard the rights of fashion workers, including provisions for informed consent and fair compensation in the realm of AI modeling.

Amidst the complexities and controversies surrounding AI-generated modeling, individuals like Alexsandrah navigate this new frontier with a sense of optimism tempered by vigilance. By fostering transparency, ethical use, and equitable compensation, AI has the potential to expand opportunities for models of color and revolutionize the fashion industry. As stakeholders grapple with the ethical and economic implications of this technology, the journey towards a more inclusive and sustainable future for fashion modeling continues.

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Top 10 most profitable places in Britain for holiday rentals

The most profitable locations in Britain for holiday rentals has been revealed – and the majority are not located anywhere near a beach.

Staycation favourite Cornwall is top of the rankings, with an average price per night of £84 for a room and £117 for a whole house.

A total of 476,910 bookings were made via popular holiday rental companies in the area last summer, according to analysis of Office for National Statistics data by the money website Wealth of Geeks.

The figures suggest that holiday lets in Cornwall took bookings worth £40million between the beginning of July and the end of September last year.

However, most of the top 10 are located in inner London, the research showed.

The most profitable locations for buy-to-let have been revealed, with staycation favourite Cornwall at the top of the rankings

The list of top ten places also includes several areas in London, including Westminster in second place.

The average price of renting a holiday let in Westminster is £133 a night for a room and £435 for a house.

With 304,790 holiday let bookings, it produces a revenue for the area in the heart of London’s west end of £34,441,270 for the summer period last year.

The calculations were based on bookings on Airbnb, and the Expedia Group, with data taken from the Office for National Statistics.

The rental prices, meanwhile, were taken from Airbnb across 388 British towns, and the total revenue was calculated by multiplying the number of nights with the nightly cost of a room on Airbnb.

The revenue did not take into account any costs of running a holiday let, such as repairs and maintenance, nor did it factor in property prices.

All of the remaining locations in the top ten were in London except for one on the south coast.

This was Brighton and Hove, where average rental prices per night were £100 for a room.

In total, the data suggested that the British holiday rental market made £739,211,390, during the summer of 2023.

Michael Dinich, of Wealth of Geeks, said: ‘Holiday rentals play a vital role in the UK’s tourism industry by supporting local economies, providing accommodation to enhance visitor experience, and promoting tourism in diverse regions across the country.

‘Tourism also helps to promote awareness of lesser-known areas, helping to distribute tourist spending more evenly across the country.

‘While some destinations may experience seasonal fluctuations in tourism often in the summer months, holiday rentals attract visit year-round, helping to sustain economies and businesses during off-peak seasons.’

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced in this year's Budget that the tax relief available for furnished holiday lets would be scrapped

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced in this year’s Budget that the tax relief available for furnished holiday lets would be scrapped

The findings show that those looking to invest in the holiday lets market need to do their sums carefully before taking the plunge and committing to a particular area.

North London estate agent Jeremy Leaf, explained: ‘This data shows that it’s not just the prospect of beaches and more reliable weather which drives profitability.

‘It’s not just traditionally popular holiday destinations which produce the best returns so it’s vital that would-be landlords do their research carefully before investing.

‘The ability to make money depends on supply and demand, not just the attributes of an area.

‘At what level a landlord can rent their property for, after taking into account all expenses, is key and explains why areas such as Westminster and Camden are proving profitable, where they may lack the charm of a traditional UK holiday destination such as Cornwall.’

The British holiday rental market made £739,211,390, during the summer of 2023, according to the latest data

The British holiday rental market made £739,211,390, during the summer of 2023, according to the latest data

Tax crackdown

The data on the most profitable holiday lets follows a crackdown on the sector by the Chancellor.

Jeremy Hunt announced in this year’s Budget that the tax relief available for furnished holiday lets would be scrapped to help improve the availability of long-term rentals.

The move is due to come into force at the beginning of April next year and is widely seen as a way of bringing the tax regime of shorter-term lets more in line with longer term rentals.

Experts operating in the sector insisted that holiday rentals remained in demand ahead of the changes.

Graham Donoghue, of Sykes Holiday Cottages, said: ‘Staycations have been growing in popularity over the past decade and right now demand for our UK holiday cottages is higher than ever, with the average annual income of a holiday let owner up as a result.

‘Hotspot locations like Yorkshire, Cumbria, and Cornwall continue to see considerable demand and bookings across the UK for our holiday cottages have been up 11 per cent during the current Easter school holidays.

‘The demand we’re witnessing is particularly good news for our holiday let owners who have faced their own set of challenges recently. Despite changes, which we are carefully guiding our owners through, it’s clear that holiday letting remains a profitable and rewarding long-term business model.’

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‘Monkey Man’: Dev Patel makes directorial debut with a delicious stab at action cinema

Dev Patel makes directorial debut with a delicious stab at action cinema

Dev Patel has always had an intelligent glint in his eye. From his big screen debut in Slumdog Millionaire to his role as a journalist in Aaron Sorkin’s series The Newsroom, the British actor usually brings a sense of peace, calm and intelligence to his performances. Perhaps that is why it is no surprise that, at 32, he has made his directorial debut with a film in favor of social outcasts, which he also produces, co-writes and stars in. The surprise is its genre: Monkey Man is a fierce action and martial arts film, revolving around hand-to-hand combat, dismemberment and knife fights.

Patel returns to India, the land of his ancestors, for his story of revenge that is strengthened by the creative arsenal applied to its sequences — and not only those of combat. While there was a serious lack of design in Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire, one of the worst choices for Oscar for Best Film in Oscar history, Monkey Man has at its heart a physical and moral entanglement, involving a sadistic police chief, a luxury brothel that serves as home to both fornication and power, and a ragged young man who seeks to atone for the death of his mother through the most savage forms of violence.

Monkey Man is also set in a slum overrun by gambling and fights, with Patel earning a few rupees as an underground bare fist fighter wearing a crude monkey mask. With its colors and the camera’s handling of Bombay’s chaos, the movie has echoes of Brazil’s City of God.

Image from the movie 'Monkey Man.'
Image from the movie ‘Monkey Man.’Universal Pictures

A comparison can also easily be made with the John Wick saga, which has revolutionized commercial action and martial arts cinema in the past 10 years. Patel even mentions John Wick in one on-screen exchange. Yet, despite the similarities, the staging and editing of their spectacular fight sequences set them apart. In the four installments of the John Wick movies starring Keanu Reeves, the choreography regarding the confrontations is developed through a paradoxically harmonious staging of continuity, with general shots extended in time. The dynamics of their contenders and their movements are visualized with hardly any editing, almost like a classic fifties musical but instead of dances, there is physical destruction.

The action in Monkey Man, on the other hand, is not one of continuity, but of rupture. The cuts are incessant and move at an unrestrained pace; the shots come in quick succession, with barely a second or two between them. Patel’s handling of cinematic language is brutal. For a novice director, he displays a dazzling energy, cadence and expressiveness. This is demonstrated by three of the only four fights in the ring, each one based on a dynamic sense of space and narrative. The first is defined by the close-up shot, with the camera directed at the waist of the opponents or even lower — giving the viewers a sense of overwhelming closeness. The second offers a very different vision of the fight, which is both more poetic and exquisite. And the third uses surprise as the main exponent, and is raw and concise.

With rough textures, contrasting colors and ochre photography, reflecting the social mud in which most of the characters are stuck, Monkey Man only slips off kilter in the second half, when the Hindu demigod, Hanuman, assumes the tragic halo that envelops the protagonist. Although it gives him authenticity with respect to his lineage, the visualization is tinged with a somewhat tiresome messianic muddle of lyrical ambition.

Monkey Man

Director: Dev Patel.

Cast: Dev Patel, Sharlto Copley, Pitobash, Sobhita Dhuliwala.

Genre: Action. United States, 2024.

Duration: 121 minutes

Release date: April 12.

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