This week’s highly anticipated Rick and Morty season 7 premiere, “How Poopy Got His Poop Back,” saw the return of fan-favorite characters Mr. Poopybutthole, Birdperson, Gearhead, and Squanchy, as they try to stage an intervention and inadvertently get riggity-riggity-wrecked with Hugh Jackman. Not a person impersonating Hugh Jackman like they did Ice T in the early seasons, but THE Hugh Jackman as a fictionalized version of himself, depicted as a frat boy party animal. In every circumstance, this would be a hysterical cameo if not for the fact that the Wolverine actor has been getting his claws into adult animation for the past several years. Jackman has wholly gotten into his silly voice-acting bag, and I’m here for it.
Dating all the way back to 2006, amidst playing Wolverine in countless X-Men films and hosting the Tonys, Jackman began exploring roles that explored his vocal range, literally. So he starred in Dreamworks Aardman’s Flushed Away and fellow Aussie filmmaker George Miller’s Happy Feet, which coincidentally opened in November 2006. That Thanksgiving season, everyone was giving thanks for Jackman’s contributions to animation cinema.
As lead Roddy St. James in Flushed Away, Jackman upped his silliness and comical chops. In this very Bri’ish–– no T––role, where he must don an English accent, he’s unrecognizable as Jackman speaks in a high-pitched, sheepish British brogue that matches the domesticated pampered pet character he voiced. The closest clue that does him in is a gag where he’s doing a Tom Jones impersonation as he’s singing “She’s a Lady,” where his deep octave Aussie voice comes out.
Then, in Happy Feet, Jackman voiced Mumble’s emotionally distant penguin dad, Memphis. Take a wild guess what accent he takes in that. The man does a full-on Tennessee voice, mimicking Elvis so hard. The movie opens with him singing “Heartbreak Hotel” (and Prince’s “Kiss”) along with Nicole Kidman in a spirited duet. That Elvis-type voice stays ever so consistent all the way through. No land down under voice detected at all from him or Kidman. Over time, he lent his voice work to other family animated flicks: Dreamworks’ underrated Rise of the Guardians as a boomerang-wielding Easter Bunny, and Laika’s Missing Link, where he does his Brit thang again as explorer Sir Lionel.
Around the 2010s, Jackman leaned into his sillier side of himself, most notably appearing as a standout performer in the otherwise dreadful Movie 43. There, he starred in a sketch opposite Flushed Away co-star Kate Winslet, where he wore a lifelike prosthetic scrotum that dangled under his chin, with the entire joke being that Jackman casually pays no mind to it while a pubic hair falls into soup, he holds a baby, and other gross-out mishaps. While Movie 43 may be a cinematic sin against comedy, Jackman is astounding in his playful commitment to the bit, exploring his versatility.
Nothing can be sillier than going meta on your own filmography. Heck, Jackman went meta long before the Deadpool film franchise was born. Firstly, he appears as a cameo in Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, where he tries to fight a come-to-life Sir Lancelot (played by Solar Opposites‘ Dan Stevens, HA the foreshadowing) who disrupts a stage play he’s performing in. Jackman screams, “Come On,” and enters Wolverine’s battle position. Still, there were no claws, and somehow, before the “Hey, Marvel actor is doing this comedy feature, so let’s joke about that superhero role they also do,” trend became a thing.
He also furthers this in an unexpected cameo in the indie dramedy Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl, in which he calls out Thomas Mann for being a dirtbag towards his ailing friend via a voiceover as a poster of Jackman in his Wolverine getup and commenting “I’ve been doing my broody Wolverine thing for the past five and a quarter years on this girl’s wall…” and his line delivery is pretty funny.
Which brings us to 2019, all leading up to the start of Jackman’s adult animation era: voicing himself in a hairy hormone monster penis form on Big Mouth. Somehow, it had his rock-hard (no pun intended) abs, hairstyle, and other defining features. It was outrageous, bizarre, and unexpectedly hilarious––even garnering another laugh when his name popped up in the guest starring credits of that episode.
That wasn’t the end of his tenure within the Big Mouth universe since he went on to lend his voice to a non-fictionalized character in the spinoff Human Resources. There, he starred in a recurring role, a sexually active bad boy humanoid angel named Dante the Addiction Angel. He didn’t try to take on another accent, for his Aussie identity and comic skillfulness remained intact. Earlier this year, he also had a recurring role as another Michael Cusack’s Koala Man, where Jackman voices an ego-driven boss named Big Greg. Since the series takes place in the land down under Jackman, Cusack, Succession‘s Sarah Snook, and more, they must be free in their comedy without tackling another regional identity.
If there’s anything to dissect from Hugh Jackman up until now, he has a spirited sense of humor and a love for the animation medium when it’s at its most unhinged. He’s fearless in going meta in his iconography and his roles. He’s up for the challenge to play off his career without taking anything to heart. He’s a man of charisma across every medium he tackles—film, TV, animation, and stage. Hugh Jackman’s appearance in Rick and Morty as himself may not be the freshest, but it continues his long-going streak of portraying the craziest portrayal of himself with endless glee.
New episodes of Rick and Morty season 7 premiere Sundays at 11:00 p.m. ET on Adult Swim.