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HOLLY WAINWRIGHT: Hugh Jackman's marriage was his secret weapon. It still is.

Hugh Jackman wasn’t yet Hugh Jackman when he married Deborra-lee Furness.

I mean, of course he was. But also, he really, really wasn’t.

He was a jobbing actor in his 20s who had a guest role on a cool cop show with a very attractive star.

And then, slowly but surely, Hugh Jackman morphed into Hugh Jackman - the Nicest Man In Hollywood (™), Wolverine, Mr Australia (just ask Nic), Oscars host, The Greatest Showman… basically, he evolved to become one of the most famous humans on the planet. 

All the way along, the woman who hadn’t married a movie star was right there. 

And how we loved it. 

Illustrations of long-term love are hard to find in celebrity culture. If a Hollywood union lasts five years we consider it eternal. In a world of constant separation, temptation and endless choice, choosing a person and sticking with them seems like an unlikely, superhuman feat. 

And so, when Jackman and Furness announced the end of their 27-year marriage on Saturday morning, the sobbing emoji practically faded from your phone from over-use. 

An outpouring of extraordinary sadness for people we don’t know. For reasons that are none of our business. 

Love Is Dead, goes the viral reaction to any celebrity split and this time, we believed it. 

Because unfortunately for these two celebrities, their relationship has always carried our baggage. For us, it’s about us.


We liked that their relationship looked different to other Hollywood couples. And different is real. Different reflects our own messy lives, and allows us to project our prejudices and wants onto these real people we want to believe are unreal, for the purposes of fantasy. 

Deborra is older than Hugh. That inverts an ancient Hollywood trope, where eight-year age-gaps usually come with a younger woman. 

He’s pretty nifty in his tap shoes, and loves a musical. So clearly, he’s gay, runs the most-tired, outdated rumour. 


He’s so handsome, swoon. Which is true, but as Deborra-lee said herself, it’s information traded as if she “won a chook raffle” rather than fell in love. 

Deborra-lee is not the one who won the lucky door prize. 

Hugh Jackman enjoys the kind of untrammelled popularity unheard of for a man who looks that good, earns that much money and works that hard. 

Usually, we - and when I say we, I mean us, the gossiping public, and also us, the gossiping media - try to shoot holes in a guy like that. To level up the cosmic balance of gifts assigned at birth. Handsome and decent? Surely not. 

And let’s be honest, pulling apart heartthrobs is not always hard. Brad Pitt and the Angelina Plane Incident. Leonardo DiCaprio and the Curse of The 25-year-old Girlfriend. Russell Crowe threw a phone, and dared to get old. Johnny Depp? Well, we all know what happened to Johnny Depp

But Jackman? He must be a nice man, if he’s stayed married all this time. 

Happily married with two adored kids, he lived between Sydney and New York and he never stopped working and he and Deb tried to make the world just a little better and fairer for parents who, like them, struggled to have babies. And he said things like this: 

"I'm always reeling in how funny she is and how amazing she is and how smart she is. The longer it goes on the better it gets."

"I knew two weeks into meeting Deb that we were going to be together for the rest of our lives."


"I'm a very indecisive person... I can count on my hand the amount of times in my life anything has felt that clear to me… I just knew 100 per cent."

Yes, swoon. 

The thing is. Real people do real things. Like decide to break up, even after almost 30 years. Even when they are beloved, apart and together. Even when their union has been a major part of their public image and success. 

Because none of that has anything to do with real life. Fame has nothing to do with who you are when you're lying on your back in the dark in the middle of the night. That’s just you. 


So no. Love is not dead. It’s real, and hard, no matter who you are.

Whether you get to keep it in exactly the form it came to you is not a moral judgement on your character. 

Whether some couple halfway around the world who you’ve never met decided to uncouple has no bearing on your relationship. 

But let's be clear about who got "lucky" here.

Deborra-lee sprinkled her magic dust over Hugh Jackman before he was Hugh Jackman. Their love has served him extraordinarily well - she appears to have lead-parented their way through his stardom, and kept his tap-shoes on the ground as the world picked him up and threw him into the wildest of whirlwinds. 

Now they’re out the other side. 

Maybe we should all be so lucky as to get a third act that tests who we are now, after all that love has done its work.  

Feature image: Getty.

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