This interview was originally published in Radio Times magazine.


A Tony winner (The Boy from Oz), Oscar nominee (Les Misérables) and a comic-book icon (as Marvel’s mutton-chopped hero Wolverine), Hugh Jackman’s talents are many. But you won’t have seen the 54-year-old Australian in anything as heart-rending as his new film, The Son, based on Florian Zeller’s play.

He plays Peter, a New York businessman forced to deal with his teenage son’s depression…

This is your darkest role to date playing a traumatised dad. Was it easy to switch off at night?

"My wife said to me, 'You’re the last person I would describe as a hot mess. But during this you have been a hot mess.' My sleep was off. I don’t think I thought so at the time, but I look back now and see that there was a real parallel to what [my character] Peter was going through."

Hugh Jackman in The Son
Hugh Jackman as Peter in The Son. Sony Pictures Classic

Do you think it changed you?

"Yeah, both my kids would notice a difference [in me] for sure!"

You and your wife, Deborra-Lee Furness, have been married since 1996, and you adopted two children a few years later. How did you figure out how to parent?

"You fall in love with someone and you work out your relationship, it’s great! All of a sudden, we had kids. The way I was parented, the way she was parented… all of a sudden… whoosh! And it wasn’t just Deb and I, it was somehow our pasts coming together. We had really different ideas about being a parent. And we never really pre-discussed it. We just assumed: we love each other, we don’t argue, that’s going to be fine!"

Are you able to leave your work behind?

"It depends. As an actor, I don’t have the 'I must stay in character'. None of that. But I have anxiety about a job. So it depends where I’m at. If I have a big day ahead the next day, I’d say I’m a 7½ out of 10 me. Does that make sense?"

The Son is your first job with Florian Zeller, who made the Oscar winner The Father. What was the experience like?

"Florian didn’t want to rehearse, which I was surprised by because he comes from the theatre. He just wanted us to live in the scene, trust each other and see where it went. And we would work from there. It was revealing – I felt so connected. I became instantly very close friends with Laura [Dern, his co-star]. Everyone on the set became very close, very quickly."

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The Greatest Showman
Hugh Jackman as PT Barnum in The Greatest Showman.

How do you look back on The Greatest Showman? Not everyone thought it would be a hit, but it was…

"I’m still a little bit in shock. Yeah, I was worried! Everyone was worried. And by the way, when we opened, I believe we were the second worst opening of any movie in Hollywood history. I probably had good reason to be worried!"

"I’m always shocked! I run into a lot of people who say 'Ah, my four-year-old loves you as Wolverine!' I’m like, 'You take a four-year-old to see that?!'"

You started out in a band…

"Yep. I got kicked out because I was a piano player and this was the '80s – if you didn’t have a synthesizer, you couldn’t have a band! It was $1,000 [to buy a synth] and I had $10 a week pocket money. So I got kicked out!"

What’s the best career advice you’ve been given?

"Nicole Kidman said, 'Just keep homing in on the best directors you can.'"

What keeps you going?

"Certainly not poverty. Growing up, I thought we were much poorer than we were, because my dad was an accountant and really tight! For me, simply, honestly, there’s a desire for love and acceptance. The deeper the hole, the more people you need to fill it."

The Son is released in UK cinemas on Friday 17th February. Check out what else is on with our TV Guide and Streaming Guide, or visit our Film hub for more news and features.


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