Grace leaves her husband, Chris Jackman, an accountant, and their five children. Growing up, Hugh, the youngest, stages magic shows and dancing competitions for his four siblings. His sister Sonia describes her little brother as "determined to get the attention." By the 1990s, Hugh enrolls at the University of Technology Sydney as a journalism major, but it will be a senior year drama theory course that draws him to acting. He later enrolls at the Western Australia Academy of Performing Arts.
Jackman makes his onscreen debut as a vicious inmate in an Australian television prison drama. Acting opposite him is his future wife, Deborra-lee Furness, whom he weds in 1996. Jackman tells In Style in 2000 that he is "indecisive – except on big things like marriage. I was 100 percent certain about my wife, Deb."
Jackman stars in the leading role of Curly in the London revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma! Says costar Maureen Lipman to PEOPLE, "Women, men, children and dogs completely went to pieces when Hugh took his shirt off." Beyond sex appeal, though, the leading man has acting chops. The following year, Jackman is nominated for an Olivier Award – the U.K.'s major theater honor – for his role in the musical.
Jackman and Furness adopt Oscar Maximillian. The couple will also adopt a daughter, Ava Eliot, in 2005. The family man tells PEOPLE that adopting is "phenomenal, and there are so many kids in need. It's the greatest thing that's ever happened to us."
When Dougray Scott backs out of playing Wolverine in the comic book epic, X-Men, Jackman dons the superhero claws. The film pulls in nearly $55 million in its opening weekend. In 2003, Jackman again sinks his claws in X2, which grosses a monstrous $215 million. In 2006, after starring in the final installment, X-Men: The Last Stand, Jackman nabs a Wolverine spin-off scheduled for 2008.
In Kate & Leopold, Jackman plays a 19th-century duke who time-travels to modern-day New York and falls in love with Meg Ryan's contemporary workaholic. He receives a Golden Globe nod for his performance.
Jackman shines as ostentatious, openly gay songwriter/singer Peter Allen in The Boy from Oz on Broadway. Though the show receives mixed reviews, Jackman receives raves and a Tony nomination. Entertainment Weekly writes, "This slim, loose-limbed Jackman bumps and grinds his way across the stage, winks flirtatiously at the balcony, and endlessly flashes his irresistible smile." The actor jokes to PEOPLE that to prepare for the role, "I just have a pina colada when I get to the theater and, bang, that's it. That's all you need to bring out your inner Peter Allen."
Jackman stars as a self-described "assassin sent to murder monsters" in the horror film Van Helsing inspired by Bram Stoker's Dracula. Writer-director Stephen Sommers tells EW, "I wrote Van Helsing with Jackman in mind. I'm not sure what I would have done if he had said no." The blockbuster, also starring Kate Beckinsale, brings in $52 million during its opening weekend.
Jackman hosts the 58th Annual Tony Awards for the second time (he hosted in 2003 and will again in 2005) and brings Sean "Diddy" Combs onstage to sing "O, What a Beautiful Mornin'" from Oklahoma! Combs, who starred in the Broadway sensation Raisin in the Sun, doesn't know the words, but Jackman grabs his hand and asks the mogul to repeat the lyrics after him. Jackman takes a break from his hosting duties that night to pick up the leading actor
award for The Boy from Oz.
Jackman costars with Scarlett Johansson in Woody Allen's comedic mystery Scoop. Jackman plays a debonair businessman who charms Johansson's character, a college journalist, as she struggles to solve a puzzling murder mystery.
BIOGRAPHY (top to bottom): AUSTRALIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION; LDP IMAGES; 20TH CENTURY FOX/EVERETT; Miramax/Everett; SNAPPER MEDIA/BAUER-GRIFFIN; Everett Collection; JEFF CHRISTENSEN/Reuters/Landov; CLIVE COOTE/FOCUS FEATURES