Hugh Jackman: Absolutely Real
What is one of the first significant experiences that have shaped your life?
When I was younger I had quite a few fears. Among other things, I was scared of heights. And my older brothers all made fun of me, because there was this place near Sydney with a sixty-foot drop-off into the ocean. The first time I went down there, I was terrified for weeks. So I went to the diving boards at my school. They had a one-meter, three-meter, ten-meter board. I went there every day and built up my courage until I could jump off the ten-meter board. And I felt fine. When you’re the youngest, you’ve got to get over your fears quickly or you’ll miss out.
And after that you weren’t afraid of anything anymore?
Oh no, I still had some other fears left over. Singing was one of them. Especially singing in public. One time I had to sing the Australian national anthem at the Bledisloe Cup, Australia vs. New Zealand, in front of a hundred thousand people. People had been booed off before. But I said I’ll sing. The night before, I had the only anxiety attack I’ve ever had in my life. I asked myself why I got myself in that situation. But then I pulled myself together and was one experience richer as a result.
"One time I had to sing the Australian national anthem at the Bledisloe Cup, Australia vs. New Zealand, in front of a hundred thousand people. People had been booed off before. But I said I’ll sing. The night before, I had the only anxiety attack I’ve ever had in my life."
Is this way of dealing with your fears the reason why you radiate such a positive vibe?
I meditate twice a day, because I find that if I don’t, I start to get off track. That to me is like a daily way to keep connecting to my true source of energy and happiness and vitality. I also exercise every day. Because without that I’d feel a little bit flat. And I spend time with my family. When I work, I work hard. But when I am not working, I turn the computer off, I turn the phone off and just spend time with them.
You practice Transcendental Meditation. In what ways has it changed your life?
I used to get overwhelmed at times. My level of happiness, my capacity for embracing people and situations, my understanding and knowledge of the world has increased. My ability to trust myself. I am also more efficient than I used to be. I get twice as much done than I used to. There’s less of this “I gotta, gotta, gotta, shoulda, shoulda, shoulda” racing around. It’s a sense of peace. Above all, it keeps me very grounded, particularly in the world we live in. Doing this twice every day reminds me of what is real, whereas pretty much everything I’m involved in is illusion.
"I spend time with my family. When I work, I work hard. But when I am not working, I turn the computer off, I turn the phone off and just spend time with them."
Do you ever get angry?
Sure I do.
And what does it look like when Hugh Jackman gets angry for a change?
Quieter. I don’t get loud; I get very quiet and more intense. And my kids know immediately. If I ever raise my voice, I realize it doesn’t work with them. My father would never shout either. I was always way more frightened when he would come home and just be silent: What’s up? What’s going on? That works way better.
Hugh Jackman was born on October 12, 1968, in Sydney, Australia. After an initial career in stage musicals, he had his Hollywood breakthrough in 2000 with X-Men. He last played the role of the superhero Wolverine in Logan in 2017. His best-known films also include The Prestige, Les Misérables, which earned him an Oscar nomination, and Greatest Showman. Jackman also performs regularly on Broadway. His most recent film is Reminiscence. He is married and has two children.
Your parents got divorced when you were eight, and your mother moved to England while you stayed with your father in Australia. How did that affect you?
No one is ever completely happy with their upbringing. But I love my parents, and I never doubted that they loved me. Everyone has their issues. As a kid, you’ve just got to know that you are a priority for your parents, even if their marriage doesn’t work out. Then you’ll get through. And when you become an adult and you have one or two relationships that don’t work, then you see that they aren’t superheroes either. None of us doubted that they loved us. That’s all that matters. A friend of mine is a famous child psychiatrist in England, and I asked him, “Am I doing something wrong? Give me some advice.” And he just said: “You guys complicate it way too much. You love them and feed them. That’s it.”
You’ve called your father your hero. Can you elaborate on that?
The man I am today is because of my dad. He’d sacrifice anything for me. And he gave me (…)