Last October I posted this sketch of Daniel Craig and Hugh Jackman in A STEADY RAIN which Daniel signed at the SPECTRE World Premiere at London’s Royal Albert Hall. Then I had to wait for an opportunity to get Hugh to do the same. That happened last week at the Premiere of EDDIE THE EAGLE at the Odeon in Leicester Square.
A STEADY RAIN had it’s Broadway debut at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre in late 2009. Michael Huff’s crackerjack two-handler is an incisive character study of the stressed relationship between two Chicago cops, boyhood buddies and professional partners. Steven Spielberg has earmarked it for a film adaption.
Daniel played Joey and Hugh was Denny. The former is introverted, single and lonely and in love with Denny’s wife, who by contrast is the married, angry, racist tough-guy who cheats on his wife. With the two A-listers from the super-heroic franchise film roles – James Bond and X-Men mutant Wolverine, It became the hottest ticket in town, selling out the 12 week season in no time.
The New York Times theatre critic Ben Brantley praised both performances in the ‘gripping noir tale’, but did slip in the notion that if “they had chosen to recite the alphabet in counterpoint, their joint appearance would still generate the same ticket sales.”
As mentioned Hugh was in town last week and steady rain threatened to stymy the sketch signing moment, but he inscribed his distinctive monogram ‘HJ’ moniker on the drawing before any weather intervened.
Becoming the sixth actor to play Ian Fleming’s fictional British secret agent James Bond has made him a household name, but Daniel Craig actually started his career ‘treading the boards’, after graduating from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in 1991. His first film role was in fact 007 in the 2006 instalment, Casino Royale.He returned to the stage in 2009, debuting on Broadway in A Steady Rain alongside fellow A-Lister Hugh Jackman at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre or Theater as they like to spell it. The 12 week engagement about two Chicago policemen who inadvertently return a Vietnamese boy to a cannibalistic serial killer believing him to be his uncle was a critical and commercial success. TIME magazine placed the production in it’s Top 10 plays of that year, ranking it second. He is due to play Iago in Othello next year.
On a somewhat bigger stage was the World Premiere of the latest Bond movie, Spectre, at London’s Royal Albert Hall, attended by all the cast, creatives and their HRH’s Wills, Kate and Harry. As perms go this is about as big as it gets. Daniel would be attending naturally, so it presented a chance for me to get this sketch of him and Hugh in A Steady Rain graphed. The event was on Sunday evening. I was in the area the day before and found out that they were making a list for the wristbands. I put my name on it in the 34th position…not a good one if you’re a Formula One driver, but excellent for taking front row at a premiere. However…there’s always an ‘however’ at these things, when I returned the next day, an hour before I was told to, the bands had all been dispensed, including my number 34. I won’t go into the ‘discussions’ that followed.In the end I was given number 0500…not a number that filled me with confidence to get 007’s sig on my sketch. As you can imagine the red carpet for this was very long. The situation did eliminate the dilemma of where to stand. I got told where to go. I managed to secure a place second row on the grid near the paps. Daniel has always thought of his portrayal of Bond as an ‘anti-hero’. “Am I a good guy,or just a bad guy who works for a good side?” he once said. I guess most assassins face this question all the time. However, on a mild Autumnal night he was definitely a good guy and on the right side..the side I was on! Actually he did both sides as you would expect a spy to do. I asked him if he could dedicate it ‘to Mark’ for me, and he penned,’M’, which as Bond specialists know is the also the code name for his boss in MI16. After Daniel signed he suddenly realised and said, “Oh sorry that’s over Hugh” I assured him it was fine, Hugh will do the same over you, one day. Not a bad outcome in the end for 0500.
In 2004 ‘The Sexiest Man Alive’ according to a number of publications, including People Magazine, Australian actor and producer Hugh Jackman won a Tony Award for his role in The Boy From Oz – a jukebox musical based on the life of fellow antipodean singer/songwriter Peter Allen. After it’s world premiere in Sydney on 5 March 1998, it opened on Broadway at the Imperial Theatre on 16 September 2003 with Hugh taking over the lead role from showman Todd McKenney and ran for a year. It also returned to Australia from August/September 2006 with a specifically designed arena production.
Hugh liked the sketch and amongst the madness and mayhem of screaming fans (mostly of the female persuasion) at the UK premiere of The Wolverine he signed it and interrupted his ‘graph to go’ speed signing to pass on complementary remarks.