Norwich fan, family man

Hugh Jackman, July, NFK

Hugh Jackman, July, NFK - Credit: Dave Allocca/Starpix

He’s the former school teacher who has hit the big time with a string of lead performances in global box office blockbusters, most notably as Jean Valjean in Les Misérables and as Wolverine in the X-Men franchise.

Hugh Jackman

Hugh Jackman - Credit: Archant

But quite aside from his striking looks and the universally known fact that he is a one of a rare breed of down-to-Earth Hollywood A-listers, it’s Jackman’s links to Norfolk that interest us most ... after all, it’s a big departure for someone born into the sunshine serenity of Sydney.

“A lot of children grow up under difficult family circumstances and I don’t feel sorry for myself for the fact that mine was exactly that,” Jackman begins, referencing the break-up of his parents when he was eight. That led to mother Grace moving back to her childhood home, Norwich, taking with her Jackman’s two older sisters.

“I stayed in Australia with my father and two brothers, and had a tough time for a while. But, you know, I had a very good father who was always there for us and I could never even imagine what it must have been like to raise kids on his own the way he did for many years. I don’t think I could have done that. You need an iron will and I never heard him complain about himself or his lot in life.”

Jackman says he made peace with his parents many years ago – age, experience and, no doubt, the detail in a raft of film scripts teaching him that not every relationship works out as planned: “I grew up a lot, and saw that I needed to stop worrying about what might have been. I needed to accept how things were. Both my parents went through a lot for us.”

Grace still lives in the area to this day, and so Jackman’s links to Norfolk are strong, although the focus of most of his love towards the county comes through his beloved Norwich City.

“The Canaries have always meant a lot to me. I’ve got some special memorabilia going back down the years and always look out for their results. Norwich fans are so accepting – they don’t expect too much and tend to look on the brighter side of the game ... nothing is too serious. That said, I am glad they are back in the big time. It’s great they have come back to their rightful position – near the bottom of the Premier League!”

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Jackman was once offered the opportunity to invest in the Carrow Road outfit, but it was a proposal he thought best to turn down. “At the time, I didn’t think it was right for me. I felt a bit of a fraud as I’ve only been there once, even though I’ve supported them for years. But perhaps I’ll be asked again in future.”

Jackman might not get to Norwich much due to his busy schedule (and the fact that he still lives in Australia) but the actor doesn’t have any trouble recalling memories from visits to Norfolk, including to the now closed Nag’s Head pub.

“I recall the Rowntree factory,” he says with a smile. “Years ago, if there was a strong wind it would carry the smell of the factory on the wind and the whole town would have an essence of caramel!”

The past eight years have been a whirlwind for the 45-year-old, who has matched big screen impact in Wolverine with musical versatility via the likes of Les Miserables.

“I realised a dream of mine when starring in Les Miserables. That was one of the soaring moments of my career and my life and that satisfied at least one of my ambitions. It’s great having recognition for good work, but periods of my life have been a rollercoaster, so with that in mind, I’m grateful for every day.

“And I want to stay grounded – I know I will because that’s just who I am. Staying at home with the kids has always been more interesting that the whole showbiz thing – playing games, going for walks, having adventures - this is the stuff that really matters when you’re a father. Your day job doesn’t really come into it.

“I try to be a good man and a good husband and father. I wish I could always live up to my own ambitions but I’m a pretty positive person and I have a good outlook on the world. Things are going well and I have no reason to gripe about anything.”

Said like a true Norwich City fan!