"I got stopped at Canadian customs because I didn't have a work visa," said Australian actor Hugh Jackman, who at the time was on his way to an audition in 1999. "What I did have was a printed sheet with my lines. So basically, I'm begging this bored customs guy and crying, 'Look, man, I'm having a meeting with the director of X-Men'." The border guard was unimpressed.
"He yawned and said, 'Are you one of the animators?'. I said: 'No, I'm possibly Wolverine'. All of a sudden, this customs guy is screaming: 'It's Wolverine!'. Minutes later I'm signing autographs for an audition!"
Well, it turned out not to be just an audition. Hugh landed the role of the mutant with steel claws and a bad attitude, and despite spending the film's 104 minutes hidden behind some seriously bizarre hair, the Antipodean heart-throb suddenly found himself and his much-photographed face a hot commodity in Hollywood.
In 2001, he co-headlined a film with John Travolta
and shot a romantic comedy with Meg Ryan
. And to think a few years previously he'd best been known for award-winning roles in stage musicals such as the Aussie production of Sunset Boulevard
and as Curly in the UK revival of Oklahoma!
Hugh Jackman was born on October 12, 1968, to father Chris, an accountant, and Grace, a homemaker, who later divorced. Before his birth, the family, including Hugh's four elder siblings, moved from Britain to Australia and settled in an exlusive Sydney suburb. A natural actor, he'd perform around the house, "determined to get that attention," says sister Sonia.
After graduating from Sydney's University of Technology with a journalism degree, he enrolled at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts.
He soon landed a role on the short-lived Aussie TV series Correlli,
and while the poorly received prison drama did little for his career, the show did wonders for his personal life. He started dating co-star Deborra-Lee Furness "He cooked me crêpes suzettes," she recalls and the two married in 1996.
"I was leaving for the opening night of Sunset Boulevard
, and I said to my wife, 'All right, baby, I'm off', and she said, 'Don't forget to take out the garbage' That's my wife in a nutshell."
The couple adopted a baby boy in May 2000, and fatherhood agreed with Hugh. "I feel blessed," he said of baby Oscar. "Tired but blessed." In July 2005, the family adopted daughter Ava Eliot.
the biggest movie I'd ever done was budgeted at $2 million," says the 6ft 3in star. "It was the kind of set where you went, 'Is it possible to have a chair?'. And on X-Men,
I'm in a trailer that's bigger than my apartment back in Melbourne, and they're apologizing and saying, 'The real trailer will be coming in on Monday'."
From there, Hugh's career and trailers only got bigger. He was named 2008's Sexiest Man Alive by a US magazine and hosted the Oscars the following year.
Then in 2012, he starred in one of Hollywood's biggest productions, the all-singing Les Miserables
at the orders of Tom 'The King's Speech'
Hooper, and with co-stars including Anne Hathaway
, Russell Crowe
and Amanda Seyfried.