He’s just been named “Sexiest Man Alive” by People magazine. Now actor Hugh Jackman is ready to take audiences by storm as a rugged cowboy in Baz Luhrmann’s Australia.

Jackman’s character, the Drover, fights alongside Nicole Kidman’s Lady Ashley to ward off the unscrupulous business practices of a corrupt cattle baron. The two drive a massive herd across the picturesque Australian landscape, while caring for a young Aboriginal orphan named Nullah (played by Brandon Walters).

Australia is a true resurgence of old Hollywood grandeur and themes. The film takes a graphic look at the racism against the Aborigines, which prevailed throughout Australian society and politics. Yet, it also manages to deliver all the fun and charm that one might expect from a Luhrmann film: theatrically timed humor and epic romance.

For Jackman, the role was one that he had been anxiously hoping for.

“It’s the opportunity of a lifetime,” he says. “I hadn’t done an Australian movie in eight years, so to come back and make a film of this magnitude, scale and ambition – using my own accent – was a dream come true.”

Sure, the powerful nature of the project was a real selling point, but the chance to re-team with old friends was also a draw. Jackman knew Kidman through his wife, whom the actress lived with when she first arrived in Los Angeles years ago. Australia also placed Kidman under the charge of Luhrmann, who previously directed her in Moulin Rouge as well as an internationally renowned ad campaign for Chanel.

But what no one could have imagined is the latest honor bestowed upon Australia’s leading man. Jackman takes his newfound “sexiness” in stride, joking that friends and family members are adamant not to let the title go to his head.

“My son, Oscar, who’s eight, says, ‘You? You’ve got to be kidding me!’”

Australia releases in theaters Nov. 26.