Hugh Jackman Biography:
The handsome and charismatic Australian Hugh Jackman went from completing acting school to a starring role in a series on network television in his homeland in one day. Enrolling in drama school after turning down a role in the enormously popular Australian soap "Neighbours", Jackman landed the role of violent and manipulative inmate Kevin Jones in the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) prison drama "Corelli" upon his graduation from the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts. He powerfully played the insidiously attractive prisoner opposite Deborra-Lee Furness, who starred as the title criminal psychologist. As their budding romance heated up the screen, a behind-the-scenes relationship led to the actors' real life marriage. He went on to appear as Detective Eric Ringer on Australian TV's "Halifax f.p." and had many guest starring roles on other series in his native country. His relaxed and natural presence led to a flourishing career as a television host, counting among his credits a job as presenter of the series "In Fashion" (1997) for the Australian pay network Foxtel and hosting 1997's Australian Film Institute Awards presentation.
Incorporating leading man good looks and palpable talent balanced with an unaffected charm, Jackman found his career moving quickly. Within less than a year of completing acting school, he joined the cast of the Melbourne production of the musical "Walt Disney's Beauty and the Beast", in 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 next landed the role of hack screenwriter Joe Gillis in Trevor Nunn's Melbourne production of "Sunset Boulevard". Jackman easily made the transition from his previous 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, where the director cast him as Curly in the acclaimed West End production of "Oklahoma!". Jackman's strong and energetic performance earned excellent notices, proclaiming him one of the most promising newcomers to musical theater.
While Jackman technically made his film debut in the little seen Australian production "Erskinville Kings" (1999), a drama examining failing relationships, he would reach a much wider audience with his starring role in Antony J. Bowman's amiable comedy "Paperback Hero" (1999). In this film, Jackman portrayed Jack Willis, an Australian outback trucker who in his spare time writes a sappy romance novel that he submits to a Sydney publisher. Not willing to give over his masculine reputation to be known as a romance author, Jack adopts the name of friend Ruby Vale as his pseudonym. When both Ruby and Jack (posing as her manager) are taken on a publicity tour to promote the book, romance ensues. The role seemed perfectly suited for the open and unpretentious actor, and "Paperback Hero", more tender and understated than many previous Australian comedies, would earn Jackman acclaim and expose him to an international art-house audience.
His follow-up venture, though, guaranteed a wider audience. Tapped to replace Dougray Scott as Logan/Wolverine, a mutant superhero with quick-healing powers, unbreakable bones and razor-sharp metal claws, in director Brian Singer's crowd-pleasing film version of the popular Marvel comic "X-Men" (2000), Jackman displayed an innate charisma and a facility with a quip that combined into a star-making performance that pleased both general moviegoers and hard-core fans of the cult hit comic book character--indeed, Jackman perfectly brought the comic-book Wolverine, a conflicted and edgy hero, to vivid life. He lent his considerable presence to the role of Ashley Judd's womanizing co-worker in the otherwise pallid "Someone Like You" before tackling the role of a computer hacker forced to participate in a major heist in the overwrought actioner "Swordfish" opposite John Travolta and his "X-Men" co-star Halle Berry (both 2001). While neither film necessarily showed Jackman to his best advantage, he always acquitted himself nicely and continued to build a growing fan-base.
Jackman opted for a slight change of pace with the romantic comedy-drama "Kate & Leopold" (2001) as Meg Ryan's time-traveling beau. Playing a courtly gentlemen well-versed in the old-fashioned politics of romantic love, Jackman delivered a charming leading man performance radically different from his previous roles. The actor once again donned the sideburns and claws of Wolverine for "X2" (2003), the superior sequel to "X-Men" in which Jackman's character stood out against the rest of the terrific ensemble cast as bits and pieces of Wolverine's mysterious origins were at last revealed. Jackman returned to an early love, musical theater, in the fall of 2003, appearing on Broadway in "The Boy from Oz," the Broadway musical in which he stars as Peter Allen, the flamboyant showman best known for pop songs including "(When My Baby Smiles at Me) I Go to Rio" who died of AIDS in 1992—Jackman would receive the Tony for Best Actor in a Musical, among other accolades, for his performance, and the actor also hosted the 2004 Tony Awards ceremony.
Next up on screen was another pulpy turn, this time playing Count Dracula's old nemesis Dr. Abraham Van Helsing in the disappointing Universal monster thriller "Van Helsing" (2004), which pitted the good doctor against a union of his old foe, Frankenstein's Monster and the Wolfman. That same year it was announced that Fox was developing a solo spin-off film starring Jackman as Wolverine. Meanwhile, Jackman was nominated for, and 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 awards ceremony, turning in another Emmy-worthy performance. Once again, 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 mutancy is found: retain their uniqueness and remain isolated from society, or give up their strange powers and become human. Jackman also provided his voice talents to the animated children’s adventure, “Happy Feet” (2006), about a baby Emperor Penguin who cannot sing—an important quality for mating—but can tap dance brilliantly.
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