Hugh Jackman gets candid about mental health and the toll of filming his movie The son.
In an interview with the BBC that published online Tuesday, the Greatest Showman actor revealed that the film’s producers hired psychiatrists to stay on set for the cast and crew if they needed to talk.
“This was the first time I’d seen anything like that in a movie,” said Jackman. “And people used it and it was necessary.”
The son, which adapts one of director Florian Zeller’s plays, deals with the subject of depression. The film centers on 17-year-old Nicholas (Zen McGrath), whose growing mental health struggles begin to affect the lives of his parents, including his New York attorney, father Peter (Jackman) and mother Kate (Laura Dern). Nicholas blames his parents’ divorce and Peter’s recent baby with new partner Beth (Vanessa Kirby) for his declining condition.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter in August, Zeller explained why he made the decision to show depression for what it is instead of focusing on what causes it, saying, “I think it’s part of the mental health issue, it’s like a mystery. You can’t quite understand why it’s there. It may seem unfair because there is no clear explanation and in a sense it is nobody’s fault.”
Jackman told the BBC that intimacy coaches are more common on sets when intimate scenes are being filmed, but that he believes mental health support is also needed, especially in movies with difficult material.
“There is a small part of the old-fashioned part of my brain [that thinks], ‘Well, that’s for you to work out.’ If you need to see a doctor for any reason, your foot, your mental health, you know, you work that out,” said the Les Miserables actor said. “But I think it would definitely be a sign from an employer that we understand that it’s very, very important to take care of the whole person, not just pay them, but take care of their well-being in all forms.”
During an earlier interview with Who magazine, Jackman revealed that he had begun therapy to help deal with unresolved childhood trauma. “It can be really helpful to have someone who’s really smart, who’s a little removed from your world,” he said.
The actor also told the BBC that he started consulting a therapist during filming The sondue to the film’s disturbing material, his own fear of returning to acting after the pandemic lockdowns, and his father’s death during the making of the film.
As he learns more about mental health, Jackman hopes The son will also spark conversations on the topic saying, “There’s a real lack of knowledge and ignorance and shame around the topic and I think it’s something we need to face very, very soon.”
According to the Center for Disease Control and Preventionone in five Americans will develop a mental illness each year, and one in five children currently or at some point in their lives has a serious mental illness.
During The sons At a press conference in Venice ahead of its world premiere in September, Dern said the film was released during a mental health crisis stemming from the pandemic.
“It’s frightening,” she said. “Even [when] you feel powerless, even if you feel alone in shame, guilt and blame, you can turn to so many who have been there before and can advise you. We all long to feel community in this larger conversation we need to have about mental health.