“Basically, I’ll make an ass of myself anywhere.”
— Hugh Jackman
Hugh Michael Jackman was born on this day in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia in 1968. He is 44 years old.
The youngest of five ankle-biters, Jackman was raised by his father when his parents divorced. Jackman was eight-years-old at the time. He grew up with a love of the outdoors and enjoyed camping and playing on the beach. His first brush with acting was in My Fair Lady in Knox Grammar School at 17. He earned a degree in Communications at the University of Technology, Sydney in 1991. To finish up his university work he took some acting classes and found his muse.
After finishing a one-year intensive course called “The Journey” at the Actor’s Center in Sydney he hopped coasts to Perth to attend the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts at Edith Cowan University.
Promotional still from Correlli . [Image courtesy: IMDb]
Almost immediately after graduating from ECU he was offered the part of Kevin Jones in a 10-part prison drama on Australian Broadcasting Company’s (ABC) Correlli.
Jackman began dating his future wife, the series star, Deborra-Lee Furness on the show’s set.
After Correlli Jackman hit the stage for the Melbourne based productions of Beauty and the Beast (as Gaston) and Sunset Boulevard (as Joe). Back in the cinema he was in the Australian indie films Erskinesville Kings and the rom-com Paperback Hero. He also did a smattering television guest spots on the ABC.
His big international break came as Curley in Trevor Nunn’s reboot of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma!”
Jackman won an Oliver Award for his work in the musical.
Don’t mess with this man! Jackman snagged the #1 spot in the Top Ten Hollywood Heroes List on Netscape Celebrity’s pole, beating out Matt Damon, Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt. [Image courtesy: Netscape Celebrity]
Then came the role that changed everything. Wolverine.
He’s played the Clawed One in five movies now (he holds the record for an actor playing the same super ‘hero’ in the most movies.) The X-Men
franchise was hugely popular and found an audience across genres and generations.
He followed up rough and hairy Wolverine with the role of refined and charming Leopold Alexis Elijah Walker Thomas Gareth Mountbatten, Duke of Albany in the time travel rom-com Kate and Leopold.
Jackman switched gears again, next appearing as a ex-con computer hacker who unwittingly gets involved in John Travolta’s crime circle in Swordfish.
Local advertising for the musical The Boy from Oz starring Hugh Jackman in New York City, 2004. Cropped from original. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In 2004 he won a Tony Award for his portrayal of fellow Aussie Peter Allen in The Boy from Oz. He hosted the Tonys for three years running (’03, ’04, and ’05) and won an Emmy Award for his emcee work in ’04.
He reprised Wolverine in X2: X-Men United, then starred as Gabriel Van Helsing in the rather ridiculous (and IMO dismal) Van Helsing.
He fared better as one of a pair of dueling magicians (Christian Bale was the other) in The Prestige in 2006. It didn’t hurt the movie that David Bowie added his talents as Nikola Tesla.
Personally, I liked the weird and romantic The Fountain. It was a big, strange, time traveling ride, and I just went with it. I thought Jackman and co-star Rachel Weisz had a lot of movie charisma and, for me at least, it worked. NOT so much for his next film Scoop.
Scoop should have been good. It starred the equally like able Scarlett Johanson and was written and directed by Woody Allen. It is supposed to be a comedy/ mystery hybrid but it isn’t funny and it isn’t suspenseful, and there was very little chemistry between the stars. So sad.
His star took a mediocre swing up again with X-Men: The Last Stand. He was good again as the muscled, intense Wolverine. But not a lot of new territory was covered character wise in the this, the third installment of the franchise.
Then my Hugh Jack admiration took a real dive. He provided the voice for two animated movies. He adopted a strange (southern?) accent to play Memphis, the father emperor penguin to Elijah Wood’s tap dancing Mumble in Happy Feet. Then he played a rat who gets flushed down the pipes in Flushed Away. Human again he played Wyatt Bose in the “thriller” Deception.
Cover of Australia
Baz Luhrmann’s Australia gave Jackman a chance to star in an epic, big budget, old-fashioned, romantic movie. It is very Luhrmann in style, and the director wisely lets Jackman’s natural Aussie charm shine through the rough and tumble character of the Drover . (Though, for the record, Brandon Walters, as Nullah, steals the show.) With the unforgiving but beautiful outback as the title character, and the nicely filmed attack of Darwin, Australia worked.
He was in the ensemble comedy Butter and played a down on his luck boxer in the heart warming Real Steel both of which that came out last fall.
Jackman has several projects upcoming including his role as Jean Valjean in Les Miserables coming out this Christmas.