By RANDAL C. HILL
Hugh Jackman has kicked off his 22-stop world concert tour, and with one big, shiny, two-and a-half-hour show planned in Tampa on July 5, we thought this would be the perfect opportunity to pull back the curtain and take a closer look at one of today’s greatest showmen, his music, and his upcoming song and-dance revue.
The saucy Aussie, an Academy Award-nominee and Golden Globe-, Grammy- and Tony Award-winning headliner, will be performing hits from The Greatest Showman, Les Misérables, Broadway and film replete with a dance troupe and a live orchestra. Ladies,
expect a flirty wink and a tight-pants wiggle now and then from the fun-loving guy.
Hugh Michael Jackman was born on October 12, 1968, in Sydney, New South Wales. His English parents had migrated to Australia a year before Hugh’s birth. Jackman attended the all-boy Knox Grammar School in Sydney, where he excelled at rugby, cricket and high-jumping, and swam on the school team.
Initially planning to become a chef, Jackman found himself bitten by the show-biz bug
early on when he starred in a production, at age 16, of My Fair Lady. After high school graduation, Jackman entered Sydney’s University of Technology and earned a B. A.
degree in communications. During his senior year, he took a drama course to fill in some
required credits; in doing so, he won the lead in a production of Vaclav Havel’s dark
comedy The Memorandum.
By the close of that production, Jackman knew that he had to make some important career decisions.
As he told Bravo’s Inside the Actor’s Studio, “It wasn’t until I was 22 that I ever thought
about my hobby being something I could make a living out of. I’d always had an interest in theater, 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.”
But first would come a (very) brief foray into the workday world. Jackman clerked at a local
convenience store for six weeks before his manager sacked him for spending too much time chatting with the customers.
Jackman went on to attend the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts in Perth. On the night in 1994 that he earned his diploma, Jackman was offered his first major role on a 10-part TV drama series called Correlli. That’s where he met—and began courting— film and TV actress Deborra-Lee Furness, 13 years his senior. They soon fell in love. After Furness
accepted his wedding proposal, Jackman designed an engagement ring that bore the Sanskrit inscription “Om paramar mainamar”—“We dedicate our union to
a higher source.” They married in 1996 at a church in a suburb of Melbourne.
Jackman gained international attention when he landed the role of Curly in the stage production of Oklahoma in London’s West End; his performance earned him an Olivier Award nomination for Best Actor in a Musical.
Jackman’s star rose higher—much higher—when, in 2000, he became Wolverine in the Marvel Comics based X-Men films. From 2000 to 2017, he appeared in nine of the hugely successful superhero movies. And after the blockbusters Les Misérables and The
Greatest Showman, we hear The Greatest Showman 2 is in the works with a possible Christmas 2020 release.
To relax when he’s home, Jackman meditates, practices yoga and noodles around on guitar, piano and violin. (Is there anything this man can’t do— other than hold a job at a convenience store?) His philanthropic projects include Microcredit, which extends small loans to prospective entrepreneurs in impoverished countries, and he advises the Global
In 2011, he launched the Laughing Man Coffee Company in which all profits go to
educational programs, community development and social entrepreneurs around the world.
Of utmost importance to Hugh Jackman is his family, especially his wife. “We’re really honest with each other; we talk about everything,” he said to British interviewer
Scott Baumgartner in etonlone.com. “I think [in] relationships, you’ve got to be yourself, even the bits you don’t love.”
November 30 is Furness’s birthday, and Jackman always tries to set aside that day each year to cook her favorite ricotta pancakes and take her and their adopted children, Oscar and Ava, out for a day of surprises.
No telling what he’ll have in store this year, but last year Jackman posted this message on Instagram: “Happy Birthday to my smart, sassy, sexy bride. I love you with my entire heart.”
IF YOU GO:
The Man. The Music. The Show.
July 5, 7 p.m.
Tampa’s Amalie Arena, 401, Channelside Dr.