Hugh Jackman has played Wolverine in numerous "X-Men" movies and Jean Valjean in "Les Misérables," but it's his role as a father in the upcoming film "The Son" that he called "the most intense movie I've ever done."
Jackman plays Peter in "The Son," a follow-up to writer/director Florian Zeller's 2020 film "The Father." The movie centers on Peter, whose new life with his partner Beth (Vanessa Kirby) and their new son is turned upside-down when his ex-wife Kate (Laura Dern) shows up at his door with news that their son Nicholas (Zen McGrather) is struggling.
Anthony Hopkins, who played the father character in the film "The Father," also stars as Peter's dad.
"I read the script and knew I had to do it," Jackman told "Good Morning America" on Monday, recalling how he emailed Zeller about the role because he "felt an urgency to play the part."
Jackman called the story of "The Son," which he described as dealing with a young man facing a mental health crisis and how the family around him responds to it, as "one that is universal."
"This story is one that needs to be told," he said. "I feel there's a lot of shame, a lot of ignorance, a lot of guilt around this issue and people want to keep it within, and I think we have to admit we don't know what to do. I think we have to admit we don't always have the answers."
He continued, "Hopefully the movie will spark those conversations and get some real help to people that need it, because a lot of people are worrying alone, and we shouldn't do that."
Jackman, who shares two children with wife Deborra-Lee Furness -- a son, Oscar, 22, and a daughter, Ava, 17 -- said the situation the movie deals with is "almost unbearable for parents" whom he said feel it's their job be their child's "strength," "anchor" and "guide."
The "Music Man" star said Zeller didn't want the cast to rehearse their scenes because he wanted to capture their raw reactions.
"It was very intense. Certainly the most intense movie I've ever done," Jackman recalled. "Every day we walked into these scenes that are kind of like the most horrific moments you could imagine having in life and we would start the day and just see where it took us. It was an experience I'm forever grateful for."
Jackman praised the film's producers for having mental health professionals present on set throughout shooting in an effort to care for the cast and crew's mental health.
"The Son" premieres in New York City and Los Angeles theaters on Nov. 25 and in theaters nationwide on Dec. 16.