Hugh Jackman and Deborra-Lee Furness have what is arguably one of the most successful relationships in Hollywood. The Aussie actors, who have a 13-year age gap between them, recently celebrated their 25th anniversary, proving once and for all that age is nothing but a number. So what’s their secret? Honesty, for one thing. "I think relationships, you gotta be yourself, even the bits you don't love, the bits you're embarrassed about or things you did wrong. If you're in a situation where you can be yourself and really be honest, that’s a good start," Hugh reportedly told Good Morning America in 2019. From the couple’s steamy connection on the set of their shared show Corelli to their loved-up quarantine in 2020, here’s everything you need to know about the couple’s long-standing relationship.
- Deborra-Lee is 13 years Hugh's senior.
- Hugh has said that he knew his wife was “the one” within two weeks of meeting her.
- The pair shares two children whom they adopted together: Oscar Maximilian and Ava Eliot.
- Despite being together for 25 years, Hugh revealed that he and his wife grew "closer" than ever during quarantine.
1995: Instant Attraction
The X-Men star and the producer first met at work while sharing a screen on the Australian television series, Corelli. “Deb, she was a big star,” Hugh recalled to People’s Jess Cagle in 2017. “I get picked up, and Deb is in the front seat of the car. I’ll never forget. She took off her seatbelt, and she turned around and put out her hand and took off her sunglasses and said, ‘Hi, I’m Deborra-lee Furness, nice to meet you.’ I remember thinking, ‘I like this girl.'”
1995: The First Date
Two weeks later, and the Broadway actor was already smitten. "I knew two weeks into meeting Deb that we were going to be together for the rest of our lives," Hugh shared with Sunday TODAY in 2018.
While the pair formed a fast friendship, it would be another four weeks before Hugh was brave enough to confess his true feelings, however. As he explained to People, “I invited 20 people [over for dinner]. She came over, and I said, ‘Deb, give me a hand with the dessert.’” Once alone, Hugh recalled admitting his feelings to his leading lady. “I said, ‘[I’ve] got a crush on you. I’ll get over it; I’m sorry.’ She goes, ‘Oh? Because I’ve got a crush on you too.’ I never in a million years thought she reciprocated.”
1995: Decisions, Decisions
She certainly did—in fact, she passed up an outing with Mick Jagger to stay at the dinner party! As Hugh shared while sitting side-by-side with his love on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon last year, the Newsies star got a phone call halfway through the dinner party with a very unexpected request. “Deb’s talking… and goes, ‘Hang on a sec.’ And she says, ‘Mick Jagger’s in a limo with my friend, outside your house and wants to go and party.’ And I’m like, ‘No, no, no, you can’t leave here now!’"
As legend has it, Deborra-Lee agreed, saying, ‘You can tell Mick that I’m having dinner with Hugh Jackman.’” It worked out for the best. As she explained to Jimmy: “I don’t even like rock and roll, so it wasn’t a hard pass!”
1995: A Bump in the Road
It wasn’t all smooth sailing, however. Three weeks into dating Hugh, Deborra-Lee began having second thoughts about the relationship with her costar, who was 13 years her junior. After all, she had just resolved not to date any actors—especially those under 30. “She kind of [broke up with me], a little bit,” the Greatest Showman star revealed on the “Aussies in Hollywood with Jenny Cooney” podcast.
Hugh's charm, however, won her over, and she decided to stick it out. According to Hugh: “I just knew 100 percent, I even knew when she was trying to work out reasons to break up with me.”
1995: Sealing the Deal
The Les Misérable star was so confident the pair would stand the test of time that he proposed just four months into their courtship—with a ring that he designed himself. “He was very nervous because he didn’t have a clue about jewelry or diamonds, and he just went in there, and he said, ‘I don’t know what I’m doing, so I’ll just tell you a bit about Deb,’” Hugh’s long-time bride revealed on a 2004 podcast. She continued: “And this poor jeweler, he sat there for an hour-and-a-half and [Hugh] bored him endlessly, giving [him] every nuance of my personality.”
April 11, 1996: Wedding Bells Ring
The duo has a special message written in Sanskirt on their wedding rings, which they exchanged in Melbourne, Australia, on April 11, 1996—only 11 months after meeting. As Deborra said in the same podcast, each one reads, "Om paramar to the mainamar,” meaning: "we dedicate our union to a greater source.”
As for the rest of her ensemble, the blushing bride went for unconventional for her big day, donning satin trousers and a veil with an elongated train, as seen in Hugh’s recent anniversary tribute to his bride.
1996: From Wedded Bliss to Tough Times
Since Deborra-Lee was already 40 when the two wed, the pair started trying to start a family straight away. "We struggled, a couple miscarriages, IVF—it's not easy, particularly on Deb," Jackman recalled to People. Hugh later opened up about the experience on ABC’s Katie, saying, “Obviously we tried, and it was not happening for us, and it is a difficult time. I'll never forget it, the miscarriage thing… It's a good thing to talk about it. It's more common, and it is tough. There's a grieving that you have to go through."
May 15, 2000: Two Become Three
The couple expanded their family in 2000 with the addition of a baby boy named Oscar Maximilian. Like most things in their relationship, however, they did in their own way. As Deborra-Lee told "Enough Rope with Andrew Denton" in 2004, Oscar's birth mom was a young woman from Iowa who wasn't used to being in the big city of Los Angeles—so she stayed with the couple ahead of their son's birth. "She stayed with us, with her 14-month-old. So we were like this crazy family... my mother was there, and we were all there," she shared. "Here is this woman going to give me the greatest gift of my life, and I want to look after her. And so, you know, we were told not to do certain things, but for us, it worked."
The actors were also there in the room when their son's biological mother gave birth. "Hugh cut the cord, and [Oscar] was put straight into my arms," Deborra-Lee recalled.
June 6, 2004: Giving Thanks
In 2004, Hugh took home a Lead Actor Tony for his stint in The Boy From Oz—and he made sure to thank his other half while accepting his accolades onstage. “I’m gonna start with the most important—my wife,” he gushed. “I love you. I couldn’t have done this without you, and even if I could, it certainly wouldn’t be as much fun as it is. You’re the best musical theatre widow a man could ever, ever have, and I love you, darling.”
June 5, 2005: Onstage Smooch
That same year, the pair shared a smooch onstage at the Tony Awards, which Hugh would later win an Emmy for hosting.
July 10, 2005: ... And Baby Makes Four
In 2005, the dynamic duo became parents for a second time with the birth of their adopted daughter, Ava Eliot. "I don't think of them as adopted—they're our children,” he reportedly shared about his family to The Herald Sun. He added, “Now, as we go through life together, sure there are challenges, but everyone’s in the right place with the right people. It sounds airy-fairy, but it’s something we feel very deeply.”
June 10, 2012: A Sweet Surprise
The couple upped the PDA ante at the 2012 Tony Awards, during which Deborra-Lee surprised her husband by strutting out on stage to present him with a humanitarian award after she had reportedly told him she was headed off to the bathroom. Hugh reciprocated, saying, “There is something I hold [in my heart] that is the reason why I’m here today, why any of this is possible... why any of this means anything, and that is because my incredible wife and kids support me.” He added, “I love you with all my heart. I know how much you hate public speaking; this is probably the greatest thing you’ve ever done for me,” before sweeping her up in a passionate kiss.
February 24, 2013: Steaming Up the Red Carpet
Hugh may not have taken home the Best Actor Oscar for his role in Les Misérables, but together with his wife, he took home the honor of being considered one of the hottest couples on the 2013 red carpet.
December 11, 2012: Returning the Favor
In a show of love, the Oscar nominee caught Deborra-Lee off guard with an impromptu serenade at the Four Seasons. “I don’t get to do this very often, but a lot of this week has been about just being grateful for all the people who’ve made this possible... so I’m going to sing a song for my wife,” he said before serenading the crowd with “The Way You Look Tonight.”
She was so taken off guard that she shed tears. She joked to Vulture: “He sings to me at every meal! No, he does not. It was a complete surprise. He’s full of them. And in that setting, it was very moving for me, so I shed a little tear.”
April 2016: Reliving Their Honeymoon
To celebrate their 20th anniversary together, the twosome jetted on a romantic holiday to the Caribbean, where they spent an entire week reliving their honeymoon. “It’ll be just the two of us," Hugh told The Daily Telegraph ahead of their trip. "We love the kids, but they can rack off and find something else to do for a week.”
July 14, 2018: Italian Getaway
Two years later, the duo vacationed overseas once more, this time to Capri, Italy, where they shared a romantic boat ride.
June 29, 2019: A Sweet Serenade
Hugh ended his 2019 The Man. The Music. The Show. tour at Madison Square Garden with yet another serenade. During the event, the crowd was privy to a montage of photos of his wife, which played in the background as Hugh performed “All the Way” by Frank Sinatra—the couple's wedding son from 23 years prior. According to Page Six, the musician even found his wife in the audience, descending from the stage to sing to her.
2020: Growing Closer
Despite having spent multiple decades together, Hugh revealed to Extra that he had never felt more connected to his longtime love than he did in 2020 after quarantining together amid the COVID-19 pandemic. “We have never spent this much time together,” the Kate & Leopold actor said. “Having this time without either of us working, being with the family, we've had the opportunity to be together, and the results are in: Closer.”
April 11, 2021: 25 Years … and Counting
For their 25th wedding anniversary, Jackman shared a gorgeous profession of love for his wife on Instagram. “Being married to you, Deb is as natural as breathing,” the singer captioned a series of photos from their nuptials. “From nearly the moment we met... I knew our destiny was to be together. In our 25 years, our love has only grown deeper—the fun, excitement, and adventure more exhilarating; the learning even greater. I’m forever grateful to share our love, our life—and, our family together. We’ve only just begun. Deb, I love you with all my heart!”