Toronto-The Front Runner sees Hugh Jackman play Gary Hart, the US Democrat whose 1987 campaign to become his party's presidential candidate was derailed by reports of a lurid scandal.

"I've never had any aspirations and looking into that world makes me want to run away further," Jackman told reporters at the Toronto Film Festival.

"I don't know if I could handle it to be honest - too thin-skinned I think." The Australian star expressed relief that actors, unlike politicians, were not held to a higher moral standard. "Thank God we don't have that standard, because there wouldn't be many actors left," the 49-year-old joked.

Yet Jackman went on to express faith in the democratic process, notwithstanding the political turmoil that has gripped his own country recently.

"I believe everything's fixable," he said. "I'm an optimist, and I say that as an Australian - I think we've just elected our sixth prime minister in seven years."

Scott Morrison is the new Australian prime minister, having won a leadership contest of the Liberal party in August. He is in fact the fifth Australian PM this decade.

Gary Hart, now 81, was widely considered to be the man to beat in 1987 when he ran for the Democratic nomination he had narrowly missed out on four years previously.

But reports of an extramarital affair wrecked his campaign and he was beaten again, this time by Michael Dukakis.

Jackman said he spent time with Hart and his family before filming and had found him to have a "mysterious quality".

"He's as sharp as he's ever been and very knowledgeable on any subject going on today," the Wolverine star continued.

"I have great respect for him and would say we have an affectionate friendship."

Director Jason Reitman concurred, recalling how impressed Hart had been with Jackman's performance when he and his wife Lee watched the film last week.

"I was presuming their reaction would be how complicated it was to watch it and talk about it," said the Canadian-born film-maker.

Instead, he went on, they chose to enthuse about Jackman's performance - his first on screen since blockbuster musical The Greatest Showman.

The Front Runner has been generally well-received by critics, with Screen Daily calling it "a punchy, absorbing political drama."

It will screen at the London Film Festival in October ahead of its UK release in January.

The Toronto Film Festival continues until 16 September.