MOTW: Hugh Jackman's Rise to Fame

Photo Credit: FOX
July 25th, 2013
Hugh Jackman's Rise to Fame

Hugh Jackman will forever be associated with his famous role as Wolverine in "X-Men" and its many sequels and spinoffs. Before he put on the adamantium claws to play the Marvel Comics superhero, he had a prosperous career in his native Australia. In fact, Jackman had quite a life and career long before he become Wolverine, and he will likely have a fantastic career long after that role ends.

Jackman was born on October 12, 1968, in Sydney, to mother Grace and father Christopher. Both his parents were born in England and moved to Australia in search of better opportunities. This makes Jackman a first-generation Australian-a fact he is very proud of. His mother eventually returned to England after she divorced her husband, but Hugh elected to stay in Australia with his father; a decision that would impact some of his later roles.

Even though he took a role in a grammar school production of "My Fair Lady," Jackman didn't always want to be an actor. He had an interest in theater but felt like acting was more of a hobby than a career. The acting bug didn't bite him until his college days when he took an acting class in order to finish up the credits he needed to get his degree in communications. He got his degree but decided to pursue acting instead, attending a one-year course in Sydney at the Actors' Centre. His passion for acting could not be stopped at this point, so he moved to Perth to study at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts until his graduation in 1994. He even turned down an offer for a role on the popular soap opera "Neighbours" in order to continue honing his craft.

After graduation, Jackman pursued an acting career in earnest, starting with a bit part in 1994 in the TV show "Law of the Land." A year later he landed a recurring role in the show "Corelli," following that with a few one-off appearances in other television shows and another recurring role in "Snowy River: The McGregor Saga." His first big-screen role came in "Paperback Hero" in 1999, but it wasn't until later that year that he would get noticed outside of his native Australia. He loved the theater and took a plum role in a production of Oklahoma! that was filmed to air as a television special. His singing and acting, along with his handsome face and considerable charm, made him an instant hit across the globe with fans of musicals.

A year later, Jackman would become a household name when he suited up as Wolverine in "X-Men" from director Bryan Singer. Though he was only one part of an ensemble cast that included acclaimed actors like Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan, he stood out and become a movie star. He followed up that success with roles in the romantic comedies "Someone Like You" and "Kate and Leopold," but it is the "X-Men" sequels that have mainly kept him in the spotlight and earned him legions of fans who haven't seen his star-making turn in "Oklahoma!" This makes Jackman one of the rare celebrities who can appeal to a wide range of fans from comic book geeks to musical aficionados. 

Jackman's love of theater from his time in grammar school never went away, so he decided to continue performing in theater productions while still doing movies. This is not unusual; many actors will tackle a play on Broadway when their television shows are on hiatus, though those actors are not always as famous as Jackman. He also does charity work between movies, narrating a documentary for the Global Poverty Project and becoming one of the charity's ambassadors. He also supports several charities that are art related and the Australian Bone Marrow Institute. He even went so far as to once pledge $100,000 to the charity of choice of one of his Twitter followers-a rare philanthropic feat for a movie star. 

Jackman was enjoying his fame and philanthropy, but he was also quietly enjoying a very happy home life the entire time he was becoming a superstar. While he was still working on Australian television, he met actress Deborra-Lee Furness, who he married in 1996. The couple struggled to conceive a child, so after two heartbreaking miscarriages they adopted son Oscar and daughter Ava. Due to Jackman's love of the theater, the couple decided to live in New York City, though they do go back fairly often to their native Oz. The happy family still lives in New York where Jackman continues to pursue stage roles when he is not filming a big action movie.