Also Credited As:Hugh Michael Jackman
|Actor, Producer, Music|
|Hugh Michael Jackman on October 12, 1968 in Sydney, New South Wales, AU|
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Hugh Michael Jackman was born on Oct. 12, 1968, and raised in Sydney, Australia. The youngest of five children who always clowned around for attention, Jackman performed variety routines for his family and participated in school musical productions when he was young. After earning a journalism degree from the University of Technology in Sydney, he decided to pursue an acting career and trained at the Actor's Centre Sydney before graduating from the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts in 1994. Fresh out of drama school, Jackman landed a role on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) prison drama "Corelli." He powerfully played the role of the violent but insidiously attractive prison inmate Kevin Jones opposite Deborra-Lee Furness, who starred as the title criminal psychologist. The couple's budding romance onscreen led to a behind-the-scenes relationship and the actors' longtime marriage. Jackman landed a recurring role in the adventure series "Snowy River: The McGregor Saga" (1996) and his relaxed and natural presence was tapped for hosting duties on the pop culture show "In Fashion" (Foxtel, 1997) and the 1997 Australian Film Institute Awards.
On stage, Jackman was hailed as one of the most promising newcomers in music theater when he was cast in a Melbourne production of "Walt Disney's Beauty and the Beast," essaying the supporting part of macho villain, Gaston. The tall and muscular Jackman still had to wear prosthetic pieces to pull off the exaggerated build of the character, but even with this added padding, the actor's spot-on portrayal - complete with appropriate pomp and swagger - shone through. He followed up by playing hack screenwriter Joe Gillis in Trevor Nunn's Melbourne production of "Sunset Boulevard," easily making the transition from his previously larger-than-life boaster to the Hollywood-fueled broken man cynicism of Gillis. Nunn was so impressed with the actor's work that he invited him to audition at London's National Theatre, and it was as Curly in the acclaimed West End production of "Oklahoma!" where his strong and energetic performance earned excellent notices and a nomination for the country's top theatrical honor, an Olivier Award.
While Jackman technically made his film debut in the little-seen Australian production "Erskinville Kings" (1999), a drama examining failing relationships, he reached a much wider audience with his starring role in Antony J. Bowman's amiable comedy "Paperback Hero" (1999), where he portrayed an outback trucker who writes a sappy romance novel in his spare time and submits it to a publisher under a female pseudonym. The role was perfectly suited for the open and unpretentious actor, and "Paperback Hero" - more tender and understated than many previous Australian comedies - earned Jackman acclaim and exposed him to an international arthouse audience. But he truly went wide with his follow-up venture as Logan/Wolverine, a mutant superhero with quick-healing powers, unbreakable bones and razor-sharp metal claws, in Brian Singer's crowd pleaser "X-Men" (2000). Jackman perfectly brought the comic-book character of Wolverine, a conflicted anti-hero, to vivid life, pleasing general moviegoers and hardcore fans of the comic book, alike. He stayed in the American spotlight with a supporting role of Ashley Judd's womanizing co-worker in the otherwise pallid "Someone Like You" (2001) and tackled the role of a computer hacker forced to participate in a major heist in the action film, "Swordfish" (2001) opposite John Travolta and his "X-Men" co-star Halle Berry.
Opting for a slight change of pace, Jackman delivered a charming leading man performance as Meg Ryan's time-traveling beau in the romantic comedy-drama "Kate & Leopold" (2001). A courtly gentleman well-versed in the old-fashioned politics of romantic love, the film was radically different from his previous roles and helped solidify a major female fan base. The actor again donned the sideburns and claws of Wolverine for "X2" (2003), the superior sequel to "X-Men" in which Jackman's character stood out amidst the rest of the terrific ensemble cast as bits and pieces of Wolverine's mysterious origins were at last revealed. Now an international movie star, Jackman returned his love of musical theater and debuted on Broadway in 2003 in "The Boy from Oz." He starred as Peter Allen, the flamboyant showman best known for pop songs like "Don't Cry Out Loud," who died of AIDS-related cancer in 1992. Jackman received a highly coveted Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical, among other accolades, and also hosted the 2004 Tony Awards ceremony. In another pulpy turn on the big screen, Jackman played Count Dracula's old nemesis Dr. Abraham Van Helsing in the disappointing Universal monster thriller, "Van Helsing" (2004), which pitted the good doctor against an unholy union of his old f , Frankenstein's Monster and the Wolfman.
Meanwhile, Jackman won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program for his hosting duties at the Tony Awards. He returned to the stage the following year to host the 59th Annual Tony Awards ceremony, turning in another Emmy-worthy performance. In 2006, Jackman revived Wolverine for the third installment of the series, "X-Men: The Last Stand" (2006), directed by Brett Ratner. This time, the mutants face a peculiar choice after a cure for mutations is found: retain their uniqueness and remain isolated from society, or give up their strange powers to become human. In a further display of Jackman's versatility, he turned around to play a charming British playboy suspected of being an infamous killer terrorizing London in "Scoop" (2006), Woody Allen's comedy starring Scarlett Johansson as a journalist who poses as a wealthy American to snuff him out. In Christopher Nolan's period thriller "The Prestige" (2006), he sparkled as a brash showman caught up in a deadly rival with a brilliant trickster (Christian Bale). He lightened the mood considerably with his next project, lending his voice to the hit animated children's adventure, "Happy Feet" (2006), about a tap dancing penguin.
Jackman next starred in Darren Aronofsky's bizarre and confounding time travel picture, "The Fountain" (2006), playing both a 16th century Spanish conquistador looking for the fabled Fountain of Youth and a modern-day scientist desperately seeking a cure for the cancer killing his wife (Rachel Weisz). An unconventional take on love, death and the search for eternal life, "The Fountain" threatened to confuse and even frustrate potential movieg rs with its incomprehensible plot, drab tone and metaphysical pretensions. In contrast, "Deception" (2008), which marked Jackman's foray into producing, was deemed a dull mystery by critics and audiences who stayed away. He rebounded grandly with "Australia" (2008), Baz Luhrman's lush, sweeping historical epic co-starring Jackman and Nicole Kidman as unlikely lovers who meet under the duress of World War II. Adding icing to the cake, the film release coincided with People magazine's annual declaration that for 2008, Jackman was the "Sexiest Man Alive." From classical romance to cult classic came word that Jackman would revisit his character Wolverine in "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" (2009).
Prior to the long-anticipated release of "Wolverine," Jackman hosted the 81st Academy Awards on Feb. 7, 2009. The presentation was dramatically altered from past ceremonies to suit Jackman's song-and-dance style and in hopes of potentially raising the poor ratings from recent years. While he was cited for his strong execution of the show's several dance numbers, Jackman's hosting gig received mixed reviews, with some complaining that his performance turned the movie awards into the Tonys, while others noted his considerable absence from the proceedings once the awards were underway. Regardless of the grumblings from some critics, the ceremony boasted a 13 percent increase in viewership from the previous year, even though the show wound up being the third least-watched Academy Awards since 1974. Back on the big screen, Jackman delivered an uncredited cameo as Wolverine in "X-Men: First Class" (2011) and had a supporting role in Wayne Wang's historical drama set in 19th-century China, "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan" (2011). From there, he starred as a former boxer who fights in robot boxing matches while trying to win custody of his son in "Real Steel" (2011). After voicing the Easter Bunny for the animated 3-D fantasy, "Rise of the Guardians" (2012), Jackman put his song and dance skills to good use as Jean Valjean in Tom Hooper's acclaimed adaptation of the popular Broadway musical, "Les Misérables" (2012), which also starred Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway and Amanda Seyfried. Even before its release, the Hollywood Foreign Press bestowed a Golden Globe nod for Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical upon Jackman for his portrayal of Valjean.