Hugh Michael Jackman AC (born 12 October 1968) is an Australian–British actor, singer, and producer. He is best known for playing Wolverine in the X-Men film series from 2000 to 2018, a role for which he holds the Guinness World Record for “longest career as a live-action Marvel superhero”.
Jackman is also recognised for his lead roles in films such as the romantic comedy Kate & Leopold (2001), the action film Van Helsing (2004), the drama The Prestige (2006), the fantasy drama The Fountain (2006), the period romance Australia (2008), the film version of Les Misérables (2012), the thriller Prisoners (2013), and the musical The Greatest Showman (2017), for which he received a Grammy Award for Best Soundtrack Album. For playing Jean Valjean in Les Misérables, he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor and won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy.
In Broadway theatre, Jackman won the 2004 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical for his role in The Boy from Oz. A four-time host of the Tony Awards, he won an Emmy Award for hosting the 2005 ceremony. He also hosted the 81st Academy Awards in 2009. Jackman was appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia in the 2019 Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to performing arts and to the global community.
Jackman was born in Sydney, New South Wales, to Grace McNeil (née Greenwood) and Christopher John Jackman, a Cambridge-educated accountant. His parents were English and had come to Australia in 1967 as part of the “Ten Pound Poms” immigration. Thus, in addition to his Australian citizenship, Jackman holds British citizenship by virtue of being born to UK-born parents. One of his paternal great-grandfathers, Nicholas Isidor Bellas, was Greek, from the Ottoman Empire (now in Greece). His parents were devout Christians, having been converted by Evangelist Billy Graham after their marriage. Jackman has four older siblings and was the second of his parents’ children to be born in Australia. He also has a younger half-sister, from his mother’s remarriage. His parents divorced when he was eight, and Jackman remained in Australia with his father and two brothers, while his mother moved back to England with Jackman’s two sisters. As a child, Jackman liked the outdoors, spending much time at the beach and on camping trips and school holidays all over Australia. He wanted to see the world saying, “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 on Sydney’s Upper North Shore, where he starred in its production of My Fair Lady in 1985 and became the school captain in 1986. Following graduation, he spent a gap year working at Uppingham School in England as a Physical Education teacher. On his return, he studied at the University of Technology, Sydney, graduating in 1991 with a BA in Communications. In his final year of university, he took a drama course to make up additional credits. The class did Václav Havel’s The Memorandum with Jackman as the lead. He later commented, “In that week I felt more at home with those people than I did in the entire three years [at university]”.
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.
Jackman has said he “always loved acting but when I started at drama school I was like the dunce of the class. It just wasn’t coming right to me. Everyone was cooler, everyone seemed more likely to succeed, everyone seemed more natural at it and in retrospect, I think that is good. I think it is good to come from behind as an actor. I think it is good to go into an audition thinking, ‘Man I’ve got to be at my best to get this gig.'” He has cited actor Gary Oldman as an inspiration, personally thanking him on a 2017 edition of The Graham Norton Show.