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Inside Hugh Jackman’s complicated childhood, his relationship with his parents and their incredible family life today

“At the time, it was difficult.”

By Maddison Leach
On Tuesday morning Hugh Jackman announced that his beloved father, Christopher John Jackman, had died on Sunday September 4.
"In the early hours of Father's Day (AU), my Dad peacefully passed away," the actor revealed in an emotional Instagram post.

Hugh and his dad shared a deep and unique bond, as Christopher raised Hugh and his two brothers as a single father in Australia in the '70s and '80s.
The 52-year-old actor's upbringing was complicated and to this day, he has been open about the conflicting emotions he experienced growing up as a child of divorced parents.
But through it all, Hugh has maintained a beautiful relationship with his father, who devoted his life to Hugh and his siblings.
In the tribute he posted after Christopher's death, Hugh wrote: "Whilst there is deep sadness, I am filled with such gratitude and love. My Dad was, in a word, extraordinary."
"He devoted his life to his family, his work and his faith. I pray he is now at peace with God."
In honour of Hugh's touching connection to his father, we're diving into the actor's complicated childhood and the bond he shared with his dad until his final days.

Hugh Jackman's childhood

Hugh was born in Sydney in 1968 to parents Grace McNeil (née Greenwood) and Christopher John Jackman.
The couple already had four children – Hugh's elder siblings – and had emigrated from the UK to Australia in 1967 as part of the Ten Pound Poms scheme.
But there was trouble in the marriage, and when Hugh was just eight years old his mother left the family, taking Hugh's two sisters with her.
Grace divorced Christopher and returned to the UK with Hugh's two sisters, where she had limited contact with her son for years.
Meanwhile, Christopher took on the role of a single father back in Sydney, where he continued to raise Hugh and his two brothers.
It was a difficult time for the future actor, who initially didn't understand his parents' split.
"At the time, it was difficult," Hugh told The Australian Women's Weekly in 2012.
Hugh Jackman with his dad in 2018. (Instagram)
"One of the main things I remember is that horrible feeling that people were talking about you and looking at you because it was odd for the mother to leave."
In fact, it would take years for Hugh to fully understand that his parents' marriage was broken beyond repair.

Understanding his parents’ split

Speaking of his childhood as an adult, the Australian star said that he genuinely thought his parents would reconcile.
"For many years, I thought it was not going to be forever, so I clung on to that," he told the Weekly.
"Up until about the age of 12 or 13, I thought Mum and Dad would get back together."
Hugh with his mum in 2007. (Instagram)
"Finally realising it wasn't going to happen was probably the toughest time to be honest."
He battled with feelings of anger and sadness as a teen, recalling in a Parade interview that it felt like living in a "storm of hormones and emotion."
At school, he would head-butt metal lockers with his mates to prove who was the "toughest and craziest", but it was sport that helped Hugh cope with his emotions.
He got into rugby, where he finally had an outlet for his anger, fear and feelings of powerlessness that had dominated the years after his mother left.
Then he turned to religion – both of his parents were devout Christians – and found a new sense of peace in faith and performing as an actor.
Even through all the emotional turmoil in the years after his mother left, Hugh said he never felt that she didn't love him.
"The thing I never felt, and I know this might sound strange, I never felt that my mum didn't love me," he told The Weekly.
"I've spoken about it at length with her since and I know she was struggling."

Reuniting with his mother

Hugh went on to reconcile with his mother in his adult years, finding a new compassion for her after welcoming children of his own.
The 52-year-old actor and wife Deborra-Lee Furness share adopted children Oscar and Ava, though Hugh told the Herald Sun: "I don't think of them as adopted – they're our children."
Hugh understood his mother better after having kids of his own. (Instagram)
"We feel things happened the way they are meant to. Obviously, biologically wasn't the way we were meant to have children."
It was when the father of two became a parent himself that he truly understood what his mother must have been going through when she left the family.
"I think having kids of your own just adds another level of empathy and understanding," he told The Weekly in 2012.
"She was in hospital after I was born suffering from post-natal depression."
"And then you add five kids into the mix and the fact she had emigrated from England and there wasn't a support network for her here, plus the fact that Dad was at work all day — and you realise that as parents we make mistakes."

Now the star is much closer to his mum, seeing her a few times a year – when travel allows.
He shared a beautiful photo with her just weeks ago, posting the snap to Instagram with just one word in the caption: "Mum."

Hugh Jackman, family man

These days Hugh is a celebrated Australian actor, but he puts his duties as a family man first.
It's a lesson he learned from his dad, he told 60 Minutes in 2012.
"My father is my rock. It's where I learned everything about loyalty, dependability, being there day in, day out, no matter what," Hugh said.
He revealed his dad was "all about family" and confessed that he probably blamed himself for his split from Hugh's mum.
"I think that's him living with probably some of his regrets."
"He doesn't want me to make me that mistake. In his gentle way, he always reminds me [family is] the most important thing."
As a rule, Hugh and his wife Deborra-Lee never spend more than two weeks apart and put their all into nurturing their family.
The Wolverine star also dedicated time to maintaining his beautiful relationship with his father.
Hugh credited his father for teaching him to put family first. (Instagram)
Last year he shared a post to Instagram dedicated to his dad and the important lessons he taught him about family.
"My Father taught me to always keep my promises..." Hugh penned.
"Even if it turns out that there's a better option or something that will benefit me more. Be true to your word."
Now the star is mourning his father's tragic death and honouring his memory.

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