A star in his native Australia thanks to his work on television and in musical theatre, actor Hugh Jackman became known to American audiences through his role as Logan/Wolverine in Bryan Singer's lavish adaptation of the popular Marvel comic X-Men (2000).
Born of English parentage in Sydney on October 12, 1968, Jackman was raised as the youngest of five children. After earning a communications degree as a journalism major from Sydney's University of Technology, he attended the Western Australia Academy of Performing Arts, where he studied drama. The fledgling actor got his first big break immediately after graduation, when he was offered a starring role on the popular TV series Corelli; his casting proved to be doubly serendipitous, as it provided him with an introduction to his future wife, actress Deborra-Lee Furness, with whom he would have a son.
Jackman starred in a number of other TV series -- and also began to earn recognition for his work on the stage in such productions as Beauty and the Beast, Sunset Boulevard, and Trevor Nunn's acclaimed Royal National Theatre production of Oklahoma!, the latter of which featured the actor in an Olivier-nominated performance as Curly McLain. In 1999, a year after being nominated for the Olivier, Jackman was again honored, this time with a Best Actor nomination from the Australian Film Institute for his portrayal of a man estranged from his brother in the urban drama Erskineville Kings. The actor's winning streak continued when he was hired to replace Dougray Scott as Wolverine in Bryan Singer's high-profile adaptation of X-Men. The film, whose cast also included Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, Anna Paquin, James Marsden, and Halle Berry, opened to strong reviews and box-office to become one of the biggest hits of the summer. Jackman's rising international popularity was reflected by his casting in Tony Goldwyn's Someone Like You, a romantic comedy also starring Ashley Judd and Greg Kinnear. Jackman was hard to ignore in 2001, appearing just a few short months later in John Travolta's latest comback, Swordfish.
2003 saw the return of the X-Men and, with them, Jackman's Wolverine in X2: X-Men United, a film that not only repeated the first film's financial success, but was considered by many to be the rare sequel that outdoes its predecessor. Sticking with the action genre, Jackman could next be seen in the title role of the 2004 ultra-big-budget film Van Helsing. Although Van Helsing was met with critical disdain, and underperformed at the box office, Jackman rebounded by earning rave reviews as the lead in the Broadway musical The Boy From Oz. That same year he hosted the annual Tony awards, again to great acclaim.
Fans had numerous opportunities to see Jackman on the big screen in 2006. He took a humorous turn that summer as a possible serial killer in Woody Allen's comedy Scoop, and in fall he starred opposite Oscar winner Rachel Weisz in the stylish The Fountain as a man who searches through three different time periods concurrently, on a single spiritual journey. That same autumn, Jackman could also be seen in the dark fantasy The Prestige, playing a turn of the century magician who some speculate performs real magic, and before winter, audiences were hearing his vocal work in a pair of animated films, Flushed Away and Happy Feet. 2006 also proved to be the year Jackman announced he would produce and star in a big-screen adaptation of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Carousel.
Jackman would spend the following years appearing in numerous films, like X-Men: First Class, Butter, and Real Steel. He would enjoy one of his biggest successes playing Jean Valjean in Tom Hooper's adaptation of the stage musical Les Miserables, a role that earned Jackman a Best Actor nomination from the Academy, his first Oscar nod. ~ Rebecca Flint Marx, Rovi