10 Surprising Facts About Hugh Jackman

Adam Trafford, AFL Media/Getty Images
Adam Trafford, AFL Media/Getty Images

Ever since making his professional acting debut in the Australian drama Law of the Land nearly 25 years ago, and appearing as Wolverine for the first time in Bryan Singer's X-Men (2000), Hugh Jackman has rightfully earned his title as “one of the nicest guys in Hollywood.”

Whether flexing his action muscles as Wolverine, getting emotional (and musical) in Les Misérables, or showing off his dance moves in The Greatest Showman, Jackman can seemingly do it all.

In celebration of the Oscar nominee's 50th birthday, here are 10 things you might not have known about Hugh Jackman.

1. RUSSELL CROWE WAS THE FIRST CHOICE TO PLAY WOLVERINE.

Actors Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe attend the UK Premiere of 'Noah' at the Odeon Leicester Square on March 31, 2014 in London, England
Dave J Hogan, Getty Images for Paramount Pictures International

After all these years, it’s hard to imagine Wolverine as anyone other than Hugh Jackman. However, it’s all thanks to Russell Crowe—who was actually the first choice for the role—that Jackman got the role.

Crowe instead suggested that his friend, a then-unknown Australian actor named Hugh Jackman, take his place. Despite the recommendation, Dougray Scott was selected to play Wolverine, but due to last-minute scheduling conflicts with his role in Mission: Impossible 2, Scott was forced to drop out. Finally, Jackman was given the role—and the rest is history. (Looks like the third time really is the charm.)

2. JACKMAN CREATED A FOUNDATION TO HELP FARMERS.

The Laughing Man Foundation “supports coffee farming communities by investing in programs that clear the way to health, growth, and success for coffee farmers and their families.” The Foundation was started by Jackman after he met an Ethiopian coffee farmer named Dukale his family. The meeting inspired Jackman to create Laughing Man Coffee and The Laughing Man Foundation to support families like Dukale’s.

3. HE MET HIS WIFE ON THE SET OF HIS FIRST MAJOR ACTING JOB.

Jackman’s first real TV break was in 1995 on a one-season, 10-episode prison drama called Correlli. In the series, Jackman played an inmate named Kevin Jones, who had an ongoing flirtation and romance with his psychologist, played by his now-wife, Deborra-Lee Furness. Jackman and Furness’s romance blossomed both on and off-screen, and the two tied the knot one year later. They have been married ever since, and have two children together.

4. JACKMAN'S MOTHER LEFT HIS FAMILY AT AN EARLY AGE.

Although Jackman was born in Australia, his parents are natives of England. Jackman is the youngest of five children, and when he was eight years old, his mother left his family and moved back to England, leaving his father to raise him and his siblings alone.

Five years later, Jackman's father went to England in the hopes of reconciling with his wife. ""Dad went off to England to bring her back, but by this point she was married to someone else, with a kid," Jackman told The Hollywood Reporter. "It was really complicated. So when Dad arrived back—not three weeks later, as planned, but five days later—I just knew. I was old enough to go, 'This is not happening.'"

Jackman has admitted that he used the anger he felt about that abandonment, especially how strongly he felt it as a teenager, to help him play Wolverine.

5. HE DREAMED OF BEING A JOURNALIST.

Hugh Jackman (C) gives a televison interview at the Japanese premiere of 'The Wolverine' in Tokyo on August 28, 2013
KAZUHIRO NOGI, AFP/Getty Images

Jackman attended the University of Technology in Sydney, where he studied communications in the hopes of becoming a journalist. Back then it was his goal to become an international freelance journalist. However, by the time Jackman’s senior year rolled around, he found he was a few credits short. He added a drama class to his schedule, and we think you can guess what happened next.

6. HE PLAYS SEVERAL INSTRUMENTS AND PRACTICES MEDITATION AND YOGA TO RELAX.

Though it's probably not surprising given his obvious musical talent, Jackman plays three instruments: the piano, the guitar, and the violin. Additionally, given how stressful life in the spotlight can be, Jackman says he has been practicing Transcendental Meditation for nearly 30 years now. Jackman’s Kate and Leopold co-star, Meg Ryan, turned him on to yoga, another source of relaxation for the actor.

7. HE'D LOVE FOR TOM HARDY TO BE HIS WOLVERINE SUCCESSOR.


James Mangold - © 2017 Marvel. TM and © 2017 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation.

In 2015, MTV UK asked Jackman who he’d like to replace him for the role of Wolverine if there were to be a reimagined, younger version of the character. Though Jackman joked about not wanting to give the producers any ideas to replace him so easily, without skipping a beat, he said Tom Hardy would be his pick.

8. JACKMAN HOLDS A SUPERHERO WORLD RECORD.

As of 2016, Jackman has held the record for playing the same superhero the most times in a live-action film franchise, as he was the only character/actor to appear in all seven chapters of the X-Men series.

9. HE HAS BEEN A FAN OF MUSICALS SINCE HE WAS A KID.

Jackman’s love of musical theater started blossoming when he was just 10 years old. He saw a high school performance of Man of La Mancha, which started it all. Since then, he has had major roles in musical films including Les Misérables and The Greatest Showman.

10. HE HAS A MAN CRUSH ON GEORGE CLOONEY.

Lastly, and probably the most entertaining fact about Jackman, is that if he were a woman, he’d like to date George Clooney. Yes, this is a question the actor was asked back in 2015, which he quickly answered. Ever the gentleman, he offered his apologies to Clooney's wife, Amal.

Josh Trank Wouldn't Mind Erasing Fantastic Four From Film History

Ben Rothstein, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Ben Rothstein, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

It’s not every day that you hear a director talking about wanting to completely erase one of their projects from film history. But when the topic of the 2015 box office bomb Fantastic Four comes up, director Josh Trank isn't mincing words. The director tweeted that he would “gladly” donate to a GoFundMe page to have his failed adaptation erased from the cinematic history books.

It's no secret that Fantastic Four is a sore subject for Trank. The production was plagued with rumors that there was a bit of friction on set, particularly between the director and star Miles Teller. Even once the film had wrapped, reports about the troubled production plagued Trank, and eventually led to him parting ways with Disney, for whom he was supposedly developing a standalone Boba Fett movie. (It didn't help that Fantastic Four tanked at the box office and even won a Razzie for Worst Picture).

The topic of starting a GoFundMe page for the film started after Trank responded to fans rallying for a page to get the rat at the end of Martin Scorsese's The Departed digitally erased. When asked if he would support a page to get rid of Fantastic Four, Trank seemed to oblige (though he has since deleted the tweet).


It’s no secret the previous Fantastic Four movies have had little success, but now that Disney and Fox are joining forces, the series could be entering into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Maybe now these superheroes will finally get the movie they deserve.

Hollywood's Brief Love Affair With Young Einstein Star Yahoo Serious

Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.

The theater owners and exhibitors attending the ShoWest convention in February 1989 had a lot to look forward to. In an attempt to stir their interest in upcoming studio releases, major distributors were showing off stars and footage: Paramount led with Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and Columbia had Ghostbusters II. But it was Warner Bros. that caused the biggest stir.

In addition to Lethal Weapon 2, the studio had Tim Burton’s Batman, a straight-faced adaptation of the comic, and Michael Keaton—who slipped into a screening of some early footage—was no longer being derided as a poor casting choice. Then, in the midst of all this star power, the studio brought out a 35-year-old actor-writer-director with a shock of orange hair and an Australian accent.

The man had never appeared in a feature film before, much less starred in one, but Warner was gambling that his forthcoming comedy about a Tasmanian Albert Einstein who invents rock music and runs into Thomas Edison would be a hit. It had already become the sixth highest-grossing film in Australia's history, besting both E.T. and Rambo: First Blood Part II.

The man’s real name was Greg Pead, but Warner Bros. introduced him as Yahoo Serious, Hollywood’s next big comedy attraction.

 

To understand Warner’s appetite for an unproven commodity like Yahoo Serious, it helps to recall the peculiar preoccupation American popular culture had with Australians in the 1980s. Energizer had created a hit ad campaign with Mark “Jacko” Jackson, a pro football player who aggressively promoted their batteries in a series of ads; meanwhile, Paul Hogan parlayed his fish-out-of-water comedy, Crocodile Dundee, into the second highest-grossing film of 1986. (Serious would later bristle at comparisons to Hogan, whom he referred to as a “marketing guy” who sold cigarettes on Australian television.)

Born in Cardiff, Australia on July 27, 1953, Serious grew up in rural bush country and mounted car tires at a garage in order to pay his way through the National Art School. When he was expelled for illustrating the school's facade with satirical jokes that the faculty didn’t find particularly funny, Serious moved on to direct Coaltown, a documentary about the coal mining industry, and pursued painting.

Serious would later recall that the desire for a larger audience led him away from art and into feature filmmaking. ''It hit me like a ton of bricks one day,” Serious told The New York Times in 1989. “I remember having a cup of coffee and I went, 'Well, look, there is a giant canvas in every little town everywhere around the world. And on this giant canvas there are 24 frames of image on that screen every second and it's the most wonderful living art form.'” It was around this same time, in 1980, that Serious changed his name.

To get a feel for the language of film, Serious sat through repeated viewings of Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove; he aspired to have the kind of total autonomy over his movies that directors like Woody Allen and Charlie Chaplin enjoyed.

In 1983, Serious was traveling along the Amazon River when he spotted someone wearing a T-shirt depicting Albert Einstein sticking his tongue out. The image is now pervasive, appearing on posters and other merchandise, but it seemed unique to the performer, who was struck by the idea that Einstein was once young and never took himself too seriously. And the concept for Young Einstein was born.

 

Serious's idea, which transplanted Einstein to Tasmania and imagined encounters with Sigmund Freud, Thomas Edison, and the atomic bomb, took years to assemble. He borrowed camera equipment and sold his car to help finance the film; he shot an eight-minute trailer that convinced investors he was capable of making a feature. His mother even cooked meals for the crew on set.

In order to maintain creative control, Serious gave up profit participation in Young Einstein, which he starred in, co-produced, co-wrote, and directed. When the film was released in Australia in 1988, it made an impressive $1.6 million at the box office and drew the attention of Warner Bros., which likely had visions of a Crocodile Dundee-esque hit. American press had a field day with Serious, who appeared on the cover of TIME and was given airtime on MTV.

Critics and audiences weren’t quite as enamored. The Orlando Sentinel suggested that "Tedious Oddball" would be a more appropriate name for the film's creator. In his one-star review, Roger Ebert wrote that, "Young Einstein is a one-joke movie, and I didn't laugh much the first time." In the U.S., Young Einstein grossed just over $11 million, a fairly weak showing for a summer comedy. It was bested in its opening weekend by both Ron Howard’s Parenthood and the Sylvester Stallone action-grunter Lock Up.

 

Although American distributors quickly cooled on Serious, Australia's enthusiasm for the filmmaker didn’t dampen. When Serious released 1993’s Reckless Kelly, a fictionalized account of outlaw Ned Kelly, it made $5.4 million in Australia—three times as much as Young Einstein. Serious took a seven-year sabbatical, then returned with 2000’s Mr. Accident, a slapstick comedy about an injury-prone man who tries to thwart a scheme to inject nicotine into eggs. Meeting a tepid critical and financial reception, it would be his third and (likely) final film.

At roughly the same time Mr. Accident was released, Serious took issue with upstart search engine Yahoo!, alleging the site was piggybacking on his popularity. He filed a lawsuit, which was quickly dropped when he failed to prove the URL had damaged him in any way.

Yahoo Serious attends an event
Paul McConnell, Getty Images

The amused headlines stemming from that incident were the last examples of Serious capturing attention in America. Having completed just three films, no other projects have come to fruition; Serious launched a website detailing some of his background and to air some of his Yahoo!-related grievances.

Now 65, Serious currently serves as founding director of the Kokoda Track Foundation, an Australian aid organization dedicated to improving the living conditions of Papua New Guineans. The board’s website lists him as Yahoo Serious, which is the name he claims that all of his family and friends have called him since he changed it in 1980.

“You can choose every aspect of your life,” Serious once said. “Why not your name?”

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