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Hugh Jackman on Parenting: 'The Most Challenging Thing I've Ever Done'

There's something about Hugh Jackman's smile. It's boyishly charming yet friendly and inviting, but still has a little bit of a bad boy peeking out from the corner. That's why the Tony Award winner has been the perfect fit for roles like Wolverine, Hook and Charlie Kenton ("Real Steel"). Now, the father of two stars in "Eddie the Eagle," a movie inspired by the true story of Olympic ski jumper Eddie "The Eagle" Edwards.

In "Eddie the Eagle," Jackman plays Bronson Peary, the fictional version of Eddie's coach for the 1988 Olympic ski jumping competition. Though Eddie never technically wins a medal, and may not be dubbed a champion, he never lost sight of his dreams, and his persistence ended up taking him to the Olympics. We got a chance to sit down with Jackman at a recent roundtable, where we talked about the film, parenting and more.

What drew you most to "Eddie the Eagle"?

I always loved the story. I was 19, I think, when Eddie jumped, and in Australia, we were captured by this guy. He became a folk hero in Australia, and I think this same reason I loved him there is why I love this movie. It taps into everybody's desire to find the thing they love, to overcome whatever obstacles they are going to overcome to do it. As a parent now, I watch that movie and I am so thrilled my kids are seeing a movie that finally says you don't actually have to win to be a winner. You have to give with your heart, you have to give it all you've got and you have got to love it. That's it. That's enough. You don't actually have to be LeBron James — you can be the school teacher down the road and be a winner.

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Is parenting what you always thought it would be?

So different than I thought it would be. I had a more romantic view of parenting somehow. It is the most challenging thing I've ever done. I was 30 by the time I had a kid, and sometimes the emotions that stir up ... they push buttons that haven't been pushed in 15 years, you know? We were just sailing along. It's just amazing how you are only as happy as your unhappiest child. Your whole life becomes basically around your kids' well-being.

It's just amazing how you are only as happy as your unhappiest child.

How do you help your kids pursue their dreams?

I believe in letting kids be kids for as long as possible. I do constantly talk to them about giving everything their best and doing the thing you love, because I have managed to find my way into a job that doesn't feel like a job, and if my kids can be lucky enough to do that, then that is the goal, I think. That is the Holy Grail. So just follow their passions and then work hard at it. Because even the thing you love to do is going to be a pain at some point.

You make a lot of films that connect with the younger generation. What inspires you to keep connecting with that age group?

I think that is when movies are the most powerful. I mean, movies are powerful, no matter when, but when you are at that age, and you're dealing with so many fears going on, like, who am I going to be? Particularly, I have a 15- and 10-year-old, so it's, "I'm growing up, how do I become a young woman? How do I become a man?" and here ["Eddie the Eagle"] is just a wonderful story.

I watched this with my 15-year-old (son Oscar) and my 10-year-old (daughter Ava), and I'm praying these messages are sinking in. Like, "Don't worry what other people think of you, just do the thing you love. Just keep going and keep that positive attitude. Don't necessarily focus on the result or winning, just keep trying." All of that stuff. So as I am reading [scripts], I read now as a parent, and I make movies knowing my kids are going to see them.

"Eddie the Eagle," from 20th Century Fox, opens February 26 and is rated PG-13.

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