It’s hard to believe that Hugh Jackman — the smooth- dancing, award-winning actor with the well-tuned pipes — turns 50 on October 12.
He’s arguably Australia’s greatest showman but life hasn’t always been easy on the ride to the top.
In 1992, Sydney-raised Jackman turned down a role in soapie Neighbours to attend the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts.
During his time in Perth he lived in a share house in Mt Lawley with five mates. The X-Men star frequented Viet Hoa and the Hare Krishna cafe for cheap meals and worked nights as a waiter at Valentino’s cafe in Northbridge where he admits he ate leftovers off dirty dishes.
“I lived on $80 a week for three years and had the best time of my life,” Jackman recalled.
Jackman has never forgotten the lessons he learnt at WAAPA and the positivity and camaraderie he experienced.
“What I learnt in Perth over those three years has made everything possible for me,” Jackman said.
Since graduating in 1994, Jackman has returned to the performing arts institution many times.
“I always try to get to WAAPA when I’m there,” he said. “When I was there as a student I used to love it when anyone from the industry came in.”
Jackman, who refers to his wife Deborra-Lee Furness as “the greatest thing” that has happened to him, doesn’t believe they’d have met without his WA training.
The pair first crossed paths in 1995 when they starred in ABC TV series Correlli and married a year later. They have two adopted children, son Oscar and daughter Ava.
What I learnt in Perth over those three years has made everything possible for me.
Recently the family travelled to the Kimberley where they were able to share the State’s indigenous culture and extraordinary nature with their children. “No one saw us because we were in the middle of nowhere — there was us and the crocodiles,” Furness said.
Happy birthday to Hugh.
FROM A JACKMAN TO A KING
October 12, 1968 — Born in Sydney, NSW, to Grace McNeil and Christopher Jackman. He is the youngest of five children.
1985 Attended Knox Grammar School where he starred in My Fair Lady.
1987 Spent a gap year in England as a physical education teacher.
1991 In his final year at Sydney University, where he was studying communications, he took a drama course and was cast as the lead in The Memorandum.
1992-94 Moved to Mt Lawley to study at Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts.
1994 First professional role in TV series Law of the Land.
1995 For the first time was cast as a leading man in ABC TV series Correlli where he met wife-to-be Deborra-Lee Furness.
1996 In April he married Deborra-Lee, 10 years his senior, at St John’s in Toorak, Victoria. Starred as Duncan Jones in TV series Snowy River: The McGregor Saga. Began his stage career in Melbourne playing Gaston in Beauty and the Beast and Joe Gillis in Sunset Boulevard.
1997 Returned to Perth and sang as a star of Telethon.
1998 First overseas role as Curly in the Royal National Theatre’s Oklahoma! in London’s West End. The performance earned him an Olivier Award nomination.
1999 Made first two feature films, Paperback Hero and Erskineville Kings, the latter earning him an Australian Film Institute nomination for best actor. Sang the national anthem at the NRL grand final.
2000 Starred for the first time as Wolverine in X-Men. He went on to play the clawed character seven more times. The same year he and Deborra-Lee adopted their son Oscar.
2001 Had three feature films released including Swordfish alongside John Travolta and Kate & Leopold for which he was nominated for a best actor Golden Globe.
2002 Sang the role of Billy Bigelow in Carousel at a special Carnegie Hall performance.
2003 Hosted the Tony Awards for the first time. He went on to present the awards the following two years.
2004 Won a best actor in a musical Tony Award for his portrayal of Peter Allen in The Boy From Oz and was nominated for a Helpmann Award for the same performance. Won an Emmy for outstanding individual performer in a variety, musical or comedy program for his role hosting the Tony Awards.
2005 Adopted daughter Ava. Turned down the chance to become the next James Bond due to Wolverine commitments.
2006 Started film company Seed Productions with Deborra-Lee and Joe Palermo, it closed down four years later. Starred in well-received The Prestige directed by Christopher Nolan and Woody Allen’s Scoop. Voiced characters in Flushed Away and Happy Feet.
2008 Named as People Magazine’s sexiest man alive. Starred in Baz Luhrmann’s much-derided Australia alongside Nicole Kidman.
2009 Performed opposite Daniel Craig in two-man play A Steady Rain in New York. The show raised over $2 million for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. Hosted the Academy Awards to rave reviews.
2011 Returned to Broadway in new show Hugh Jackman: Back on Broadway.
2012 Lost 7kg and then gained 14kg for his role in Les Miserables. Voiced Bunny in Rise of the Guardians.
2013 Won a Golden Globe for his performance as Jean Valjean in Les Miserables and was nominated for two Screen Actors Guild Awards. Again performed on Broadway in play The River. Had a skin cancer removed from his nose, he had another removed the following year.
2015 Toured Australia with his one-man show Broadway to Oz. Starred as Blackbeard in the critically panned Pan.
2017 Had his final outing as Wolverine in Logan, starred in Eddie the Eagle and The Greatest Showman which grossed $602 million. For his role as P.T. Barnum in The Greatest Showman he was nominated for a Golden Globe for best actor in a motion picture, musical or comedy.
2018 Filmed The Front Runner and Broadway 4D. Celebrated his 50th birthday.