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Hugh Jackman

Background Information

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Hugh Jackman

Jackman at the X-Men Origins: Wolverine premiere in April 2009
Born Hugh Michael Jackman
(1968-10-12) 12 October 1968
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Occupation Actor
Years active 1994–present
Spouse(s) Deborra-Lee Furness

Hugh Michael Jackman (born 12 October 1968) is an Australian actor and producer who is involved in film, musical theatre and television.

Jackman has won international recognition for his roles in major films, notably as action/superhero, period and romance characters. He is well known from his role as Wolverine in the X-Men series, in addition to his leads in Kate & Leopold, Van Helsing, The Prestige, and Australia. Jackman is a singer, dancer, and actor in stage musicals, and won a Tony Award for his role in The Boy from Oz.

A three-time host of the Tony Awards, winning an Emmy for one of these appearances, Jackman also hosted the 81st Academy Awards on 22 February 2009.

Early life

Jackman was born in Sydney, New South Wales, the youngest of five children of English parents Chris Jackman and Grace Watson, and the second child to be born in Australia (he also has a younger half sister). His parents divorced when he was eight, and he remained with his accountant father and siblings, while his mother moved back to England. As a child, Jackman liked the outdoors, spending a lot of time at the beach and on camping trips and vacations all over Australia. He wanted to see the world: "I used to spend nights looking at atlases. I decided I wanted to be a chef on a plane. Because I'd been on a plane and there was food on board, I presumed there was a chef. I thought that would be an ideal job."

Jackman went to primary school at Pymble Public School and later attended the all-boys Knox Grammar School, where he starred in its production of My Fair Lady in 1985 and became the captain of the School in 1986. Following graduation, he spent a gap year working at Uppingham School in England. On his return, he studied at the University of Technology, Sydney, graduating in 1991 with a BA in Communications. After obtaining his BA, Jackman completed the one-year course "The Journey" at the Actors' Centre in Sydney. About studying acting full-time, he stated, "It wasn't until I was 22 that I ever thought about my hobby being something I could make a living out of. As a boy, I'd always had an interest in theatre. But the idea at my school was that drama and music were to round out the man. It wasn't what one did for a living. I got over that. I found the courage to stand up and say, 'I want to do it'."

After completing "The Journey", he was offered a role on the popular soap opera Neighbours but turned it down to attend the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts of Edith Cowan University in Perth, Western Australia, from which he graduated in 1994.


Early stage, film, and television work

On the night of his final Academy graduation performance, Jackman got a phone call offering him a role on Correlli: "I was technically unemployed for thirteen seconds." Correlli, devised by Australian actress Denise Roberts, was a 10-part drama series on ABC, Jackman's first major professional job, and where he met his future wife Deborra-Lee Furness: "Meeting my wife was the greatest thing to come out of it." The show lasted only one season.

After Correlli Jackman went on the stage in Melbourne. In 1996, Jackman played Gaston in the local Walt Disney production of Beauty and the Beast, and Joe Gillis in Sunset Boulevard. During his stage musical career in Melbourne, he starred in the 1998 Midsumma festival cabaret production Summa Cabaret. He also hosted Melbourne's Carols by Candlelight and Sydney's Carols in the Domain.

Jackman's early film work includes Erskineville Kings and Paperback Hero (1999), and his television work includes Law of the Land, Halifax f.p., Blue Heelers, and Banjo Paterson's The Man from Snowy River.

International stardom


Jackman became known outside of Australia in 1998, when he played the leading role of Curly in the Royal National Theatre's acclaimed stage production of Oklahoma!, in London's West End. The performance earned him an Olivier Award nomination for Best Actor in a Musical. Jackman said," I totally felt like it can't get any better than this. On some level that production will be one of the highlights of my career." He also starred in the 1999 film version of the same stage musical, which has been screened in many countries.


In 2000, Jackman was cast as Wolverine in Bryan Singer's X-Men, replacing Dougray Scott. His co-stars include Patrick Stewart, James Marsden, Famke Janssen, and Ian McKellen. According to a CBS interview in November 2006, Jackman's wife Deborra-Lee Furness told him not to take the role, a comment she later told him she was glad he ignored.

Wolverine was tough for Jackman to portray because he had few lines, but a lot of emotion to convey in them. To prepare, he watched Clint Eastwood in the Dirty Harry movies and Mel Gibson in Road Warrior. "Here were guys who had relatively little dialogue, like Wolverine had, but you knew and felt everything. I'm not normally one to copy, but I wanted to see how these guys achieved it."

Jackman was adamant about doing his own stunts for the movie. "We worked a lot on the movement style of Wolverine, and I studied some martial arts. I watched a lot of Mike Tyson fights, especially his early fights. There's something about his style, the animal rage, that seemed right for Wolverine. I kept saying to the writers, 'Don't give me long, choreographed fights for the sake of it. Don't make the fights pretty."

Jackman also had to get used to wearing Wolverine's claws. "Every day in my living room, I'd just walk around with those claws, to get used to them. I've got scars on one leg, punctures straight through the cheek, on my forehead. I'm a bit clumsy. I'm lucky I didn't tell them that when I auditioned."

Jackman, at 6'2½ (1.89 m), stands a foot taller than Wolverine, who is said in the original comic book to be 5' 3". Hence, the filmmakers were frequently forced to shoot Jackman at unusual angles or only from the waist up to make him appear shorter than he actually is, and his co-stars wore platform soles. Jackman was also required to add a great deal of muscle for the role, and in preparing for the fourth film in the series, he bench-pressed over 300 pounds. An instant star upon the film's release, Jackman later reprised his role in 2003's X-Men 2, 2006's X-Men: The Last Stand, and X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which was released May 1, 2009.


Jackman starred as Leopold in the 2001 romantic comedy film Kate & Leopold, a role for which he received a Best Actor Golden Globe nomination. Jackman plays a Victorian English duke who accidentally time-travels to 21st-century Manhattan, where he meets Kate ( Meg Ryan), a cynical advertising executive.

In 2001, Jackman also starred in the action/drama Swordfish with John Travolta and Halle Berry. This was the second time Jackman worked with Berry, and the two have worked together twice more in the X-Men movies.

He also hosted an episode of " Saturday Night Live" in 2001.

Stage 2002–2009

Local advertising for the musical The Boy from Oz starring Jackman in New York City (2004)

In 2002, Jackman sang the role of Billy Bigelow in the musical Carousel in a special concert performance at Carnegie Hall with the Orchestra of St. Luke's.

In 2004, Jackman won the Tony Award and the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actor in a Musical for his 2003–2004 Broadway portrayal of Australian songwriter and performer Peter Allen in the hit musical The Boy from Oz, which he also performed in Australia in 2006.

In addition, Jackman hosted the Tony Awards in 2003, 2004, and 2005, garnering positive reviews. His hosting of the 2004 Tony Awards earned him an Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Performer in a Variety, Musical or Comedy program.

Jackman co-starred with Daniel Craig on Broadway at the Schoenfeld Theatre in a limited engagement of the play A Steady Rain, opening in previews on 10 September 2009 and closing on 6 December 2009.

Films 2003–2008

Hugh Jackman and Ryan Reynolds (right) at the X-Men Origins: Wolverine premiere in Tempe, Arizona (2009)

After 2003's X2: X-Men United, Jackman played the title role of monster killer Gabriel Van Helsing in the 2004 film Van Helsing. Jackman and the film were noted in Bruce A. McClelland's book "Slayers and Their Vampires: A Cultural History of Killing the Dead".

Jackman was one of the choices to play James Bond in 2006's Casino Royale, but eventually lost out to Daniel Craig.

Jackman starred in the 2006 film The Prestige, directed by Christopher Nolan and co-starring Christian Bale, Michael Caine, and Scarlett Johansson. As Robert Angier, Jackman portrayed a magician who built up a rivalry with contemporary Alfred Borden in attempt to one-up each other in the art of deception. Jackman stated that his main reason for doing The Prestige was to work with the musician David Bowie, who played scientist Nikola Tesla.

Jackman portrayed three different characters in Darren Aronofsky's science-fiction film The Fountain: Tommy Creo, a neuroscientist, who's torn between his wife, Izzi ( Rachel Weisz) who is dying of a brain tumor, and his work at trying to cure her; Captain Tomas Creo, a Spanish Conquistador in 1532 Seville; and a future astronaut, Tom, travelling to a golden nebula in an eco-spacecraft seeking to be reunited with Izzi. Jackman said The Fountain was his most difficult film thus far due to the physical and emotional demands of the part.

Jackman also starred in Woody Allen's 2006 film Scoop opposite Scarlett Johansson. He rounded out 2006 with two animated films: Happy Feet, directed by George Miller, in which he voiced the part of Memphis, an emperor penguin; and Flushed Away, where Jackman supplied the voice of a rat named Roddy who ends up being flushed down a family's toilet into the London sewer system. Flushed Away co-starred Kate Winslet and Ian McKellen (Jackman's fourth time working with him).

In 2007, Jackman produced and guest-starred in the television musical- dramedy series Viva Laughlin, which was canceled by CBS after two episodes.

Jackman's 2008 movies included Deception (which he starred in and produced), Uncle Jonny, and Australia.


In 2008, director Baz Luhrmann cast Jackman to replace Russell Crowe as the male lead in his much-publicized epic film, Australia, which co-starred Nicole Kidman. The movie was released in late November 2008 in Australia and the U.S.

Jackman played a tough, independent cattle drover, who reluctantly helps an English noblewoman in her quest to save both her philandering husband's Australian cattle station and the half-caste Aboriginal child she finds there.

Of the movie, Jackman said, "This is pretty much one of those roles that had me pinching myself all the way through the shoot. I got to shoot a big-budget, shamelessly old-fashioned romantic epic set against one of the most turbulent times in my native country's history, while, at the same time, celebrating that country's natural beauty, its people, its cultures.... I'll die a happy man knowing I've got this film on my CV."

Future projects

  • Jackman also plans to play Billy Bigelow in a remake of Carousel, scheduled to be released in 2010.
  • Jackman is being considered, along with Ewan McGregor, to reprise the role of Joe Gillis in a new film version of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Sunset Boulevard.
  • Jackman is working on creating a new comic book series, Nowhere Man, with U.S. publisher Virgin Comics and writer Marc Guggenheim, with hopes of adapting it to a film as well.
  • Jackman stars in an upcoming movie named Unbound Captives, where he will play alongside his past co-star Rachel Weisz and Robert Pattinson.
  • Jackman will star in The Greatest American Showman, a contemporary musical based on the life of P.T. Barnum. The female love interest part is being written with Anne Hathaway in mind.
  • Real Steel (2011), a DreamWorks science fiction film.
  • Director Lee Daniels has confirmed Jackman has joined the cast of his upcoming film Selma, a film about Martin Luther King Jr. and Lyndon Baines Johnson and the civil rights marches.
  • Jackman will star in Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, originally scheduled to start filming February 2010.

Production company

In 2005, Jackman joined with longtime assistant John Palermo to form a production company, Seed Productions, whose first project was Viva Laughlin in 2007. Jackman's wife Deborra-Lee Furness is also involved in the company, and Palermo had three rings made with a "unity" inscription for himself, Furness, and Jackman. Jackman said, "I'm very lucky in the partners I work with in my life, Deb and John Palermo. It really works. We all have different strengths. I love it. It's very exciting."

The Fox-based Seed label has grown in size to include execs Amanda Schweitzer, Kathryn Tamblyn, Allan Mandelbaum and Joe Marino, with Alana Free operating the Sydney-based production office whose goal is to mount modest-budget films to harness local talent in Jackman's home country.

Other interests

Charity work

As a philanthropist, Jackman is a longtime proponent of microcredit — the extension of very small loans to impoverished prospective entrepreneurs in undeveloped countries. He is a vocal supporter of Muhammad Yunus, microcredit pioneer and the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner.

Jackman is a global advisor of the Global Poverty Project, for which he narrated a documentary; and he and the project's founder Hugh Evans visited the UN for the cause in 2009. Jackman hosted a preview of the Global Poverty Project Presentation in New York together with Donna Karran, Lisa Fox and his wife Debbora-lee . He is also a World Vision ambassador and participated in the climate week NYC ceremony on September 21, 2009.

Jackman supports The Art of Elysium and the MPTV Fund Foundation, and he and his wife Deborra-Lee Furness are patrons of the Bone Marrow Institute in Australia. Jackman also narrated the 2008 documentary about global warming, The Burning Season.

Jackman also uses his Twitter account for charity. On April 14, 2009 Jackman posted on his Twitter page that he would donate $100,000 to one individual's favorite non profit organization. On April 21, 2009 he revealed his decision to donate $50,000 to Charity:Water and $50,000 to Operation of Hope.

Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig made a unique place for themselves in the history of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS fundraising 8 December 2009, when it was announced that they had raised $1,549,953 in the 21st annual Gypsy of the Year competition, from six weeks of curtain appeals at their hit Broadway drama, A Steady Rain.

Sports and other activities

Jackman aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge in New York (2006)

Jackman has shown keen interest in a variety of sports. In high school, he played rugby union and cricket, took part in high jumping and was on the swimming team. He also enjoys basketball and kayaking. He has also expressed an interest in football, committing his support to Norwich City FC.

Jackman is a longtime fan and supporter of the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles, a NRL club based in Sydney's north. He sang the national anthem at the 1999 NRL Grand Final. Hugh also revealed on Sky Sports Soccer AM that he was a Norwich City F.C Fan.

Jackman can also play the piano, does yoga every day, and has been a member of the School of Practical Philosophy since 1992.

Personal life

Jackman has two older brothers and two older sisters, as well as a half-sister from when his mother re-married.

Jackman married Deborra-Lee Furness on 11 April 1996. They met on Correlli, an Australian television series. Jackman personally designed an engagement ring for Furness, and their wedding rings bore the Sanskrit inscription "Om paramar mainamar," translated as "we dedicate our union to a greater source." They currently divide their time between Sydney and New York City.

Furness had two miscarriages, following which she and Jackman adopted two children, Oscar Maximillian (born 15 May 2000) and Ava Eliot (born 10 July 2005).


Year Film Role Notes
1994 Law of the Land Charles McCray One episode
1995 Correlli Kevin Jones Main role
Blue Heelers Brady Jackson One episode
1996 The Man from Snowy River Duncan Jones Five episodes
1999 Erskineville Kings Wace Film Critics Circle of Australia Award for Best Actor
Nominated — Australian Film Institute Award for Best Actor
Paperback Hero Jack Willis
2000 X-Men Logan / Wolverine Saturn Award
2001 Kate & Leopold Leopold Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Someone Like You Eddie
Swordfish Stanley Jobson
2003 X2 Logan / Wolverine Nominated — Empire Award for Best Actor
2004 Van Helsing Gabriel Van Helsing
Van Helsing: The London Assignment Gabriel Van Helsing (voice)
2005 Stories of Lost Souls Roger segment "Standing Room Only"
2006 Happy Feet Memphis (voice)
Flushed Away Roddy (voice)
The Prestige Robert Angier Nominated — Australian Film Institute Award for Best Actor
The Fountain Tomas / Tommy / Tom Creo Nominated — Satellite Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Drama
Scoop Peter Lyman
X-Men: The Last Stand Logan / Wolverine
2007 Viva Laughlin Nicky Fontana TV series, also executive producer
2008 Deception Wyatt Bose Producer
Uncle Jonny Uncle Russell Tropfest 2008 Finalist Film
Australia The Drover Nominated — Teen Choice Award for Choice Actor in a Drama
The Burning Season Narrator Documentary
2009 X-Men Origins: Wolverine Logan / Wolverine Producer
2011 Real Steel Charlie Kenton

Awards and nominations


Jackman's signature at Grauman's Chinese Theatre
  • 1997 Variety Club Award for Best Actor in a Musical - Sunset Boulevard
  • 1998 Mo Award for Best Actor in a Musical – Sunset Boulevard
  • 1999 Australian Movie Convention, Australian Star of the Year
  • 2000 Saturn Award for Best Actor - X-Men
  • 2004 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actor in a Musical – The Boy from Oz
  • 2004 Theatre World Award – The Boy from Oz
  • 2004 Broadway Audience Award – The Boy from Oz
  • 2004 Drama League Award for Distinguished Performance of the Year - The Boy from Oz
  • 2004 Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Actor in a Musical - The Boy from Oz
  • 2004 TDF-Astaire Award for Best Male Dancer in Theatre - The Boy from Oz
  • 2004 Theatre Fan's Choice Award for Best Leading Actor in a Musical - The Boy from Oz
  • 2004 Tony Award for Best Leading Actor in a Musical – The Boy from Oz
  • 2004 New York International Independent Film & Video Festival - Short Film Award for Best Actor - "Making the Grade"
  • 2004 Australian Showbusiness Ambassador of the Year
  • 2005 Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program – 58th Annual Tony Awards Ceremonies
  • 2006 ShoWest Award for Male Star of the Year
  • 2006 Mo Award for Australian Performer of the Year
  • 2008 WAAPA - Chancellor's Alumni Award for Excellence, UTS Towering Achievement Award
  • 2008 Australian Dance Award for Outstanding Performance in a Stage Musical - The Boy from Oz
  • 2008 Australian Film Institute Award Readers' Choice
  • 2008 People Magazine's Sexiest Man Alive Award
  • 2008 Australian GQ Man of the Year
  • 2008 Teen Choice Award for Choice Actor in an Action Adventure X-Men Origins: Wolverine
  • 2009 Jackman had his hand and footprint ceremony on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on April 21, 2009.
  • 2009 Best Performance By A Human Male at the 2009 Spike Video Game Awards as Wolverine in X-Men Origins: Wolverine
  • 2010 People's Choice Award for Favorite Action Star — X-Men Origins: Wolverine


  • 1997 Mo Award for Best Actor in a Musical — Beauty and the Beast
  • 1998 Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical — Oklahoma!
  • 2001 Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Motion Picture Musical or Comedy - Kate & Leopold
  • 2001 CFCA Award for Most Promising Actor
  • 2006 Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program — 59th Annual Tony Awards Ceremonies
  • 2006 Green Room Award for Best Male Artist in a Leading Role — The Boy from Oz

Mentions in popular culture

  • Jackman was chosen as People magazine's Sexiest Man Alive of 2008.
  • In the ABC comedy-drama Scrubs, one of the more prominent running gags is Dr. Cox's ( John C. McGinley) seemingly irrational hatred of Jackman.
  • In the 7th season of Punk'd, Jackman was led to believe that he had accidentally blown up director Brett Ratner's house.
  • On the Season 6, Episode 13 of Will & Grace, which aired on February 10, 2004, the character Jack McFarland ( Sean Hayes), mentions he's going to see The Boy From Oz, because he can't wait to see Hugh Jackman. He later discusses wanting to sue Jackman for stealing some of his dance moves.
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