Hugh Jackman forgives his mother for abandoning him when he was eight

Hugh with his mom in June

Kaiser, Bedhead and I were emailing about this story and I said that my first response was to give eight year-old Hugh Jackman a hug. Then I started to feel creepy, since I want to do more than hug current Hugh Jackman. (Thinking about current Hugh Jackman… that doesn’t make me a creeper!) This is a sad but ultimately heartwarming story of a kid abandoned by his mother when he was just a child, who turned out to be one of the greatest entertainers of his generation, and who ended up adopting children with his loving wife. Yes that sounds hackneyed, but that’s how I feel about Hugh. I put him on a pedestal because he’s such a stand up guy. This story about his childhood, which I’m hearing for the first time, solidifies my opinion of him. Here’s more of what he said:

Hugh Jackman was just eight years old when his mother packed her bags and moved back to England, leaving him and his four siblings alone with their bewildered father in Sydney’s northern suburbs.

It’s been 35 years since that traumatic day, but Hugh, 44, still remembers how confused he was, and how he clung to the hope that his mother would one day return.

“At the time, it was difficult,” he tells the November issue of The Australian Women’s Weekly. “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.

“For many years, I thought it was not going to be forever, so I clung on to that. Up until about the age of 12 or 13, I thought Mum and Dad would get back together.

“Finally realising it wasn’t going to happen was probably the toughest time to be honest.”

Despite his heartache, Hugh says he always felt loved and can understand why his mother decided to leave.

“The thing I never felt, and I know this might sound strange, I never felt that my mum didn’t love me,” he says.

“I’ve spoken about it at length with her since and I know she was struggling. 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.”

Hugh is now close to his mother, and sees her three of four times a year. He and wife Deborra-lee Furness now have two children of their own — Oscar, 12, and Ava, seven, both adopted — and the actor thinks becoming a parent has allowed him to understand his mother better.

“I think having kids of your own just adds another level of empathy and understanding,” he says. “And there comes a certain point in life when you have to stop blaming other people for how you feel or the misfortunes in your life.

“You can’t go through life obsessing about what might have been — it stops you from being grateful for all the wonderful things you have in your life.”


When I first read this story over on Radar, I was able to feel for Hugh but I didn’t get tears in my eyes until I read his words in the original article. That is a powerful story that’s making me well up. I love Hugh Jackman so much. He’s come to an understanding about why his mother left, and he’s able to appreciate the wonderful life he has now. I hope that he and his wife Deborra stay together forever, and that we don’t hear a whiff of scandal about him ever. This story goes a long way toward explaining why he’s such a devoted family man.

Here’s Hugh in August on the set of Wolverine, with his son, Oscar. Look at those arms! He’s also shown out with his mom in June, shirtless at the beach (!) and with his family at LAX, also in June. Credit: Kadena Press/ and Carlos Costas,

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35 Responses to “Hugh Jackman forgives his mother for abandoning him when he was eight”

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  1. Birdix says:

    amazing. That’s an incredible amount of forgiveness and understanding.

  2. T.C. says:

    Crying over here for that 8 year old. I never heard this story. He is such a great guy. I bet his family will always come first.

  3. Joanna says:

    he is so hot! we need a whole post w/half-naked pics of him. please!!!!

  4. Charlotte says:

    That’s exactly what my mother did – moved us from England to the other side of the world, then moved back without us. I was not quite 8. It messed my brother up more than me, and it was definitely hard having a solo-parent dad before that was ‘acceptable’. I’d only just started to make peace with her when she died. I think I get why she did it, but as a mother now myself, I’ll never fully reconcile myself to her actions

    Also, his mum looks like Guy Pearce.

    • Jayna says:

      That must have been hard. I always felt for Sarah Ferguson, because it really did have a profound effect on her, her mother leaving to run away with another man. And her mother seemed cold, anyway, with what relationship they did have. And I do believe it had a lot to do with her food issues and self-esteem issues.

      • Charlotte says:

        It was certainly an early lesson in building character and probably inspired my use of sarcasm and humour to deflect attention. My brother has never fully trusted women since. It’s funny because my heart breaks for him, yet I’ve never had self-pitying tears over it.

    • Snowpea says:

      Charlotte, I totally understand. The same thing happened to me in reverse. My mum left us here in Australia and went to England for 4 years.

      It’s such a rare occurrence you never get to talk about it with anyone who properly understands because mothers rarely abandon their kids.

      I work in aged care and only last week, an old lady I look after told me the same thing happened to her when she was 6. Her mother ran off with another man and they went to England. She never saw her again.

      But it has taken me almost 40 years to meet another person who it has happened to.

  5. Jayna says:

    Hugh Jackman is arguably the nicest guy in Hollywood. I had heard this story by him before and it is heartbreaking, but, as usual, he handles it with such grace as far as reflection and forgiveness. He never fails to make you feel good after seeing him on a late night TV show, trying to be funny and interesting, instead of some of the boring guests.

    He had a one-man show on Broadway. Even Hugh said he didn’t know all what he would do and how it would go over. A celeb who went said they thought, how boring, what is he going to do, just sing and dance the whole show, but it wasn’t just that and they said it was just fantastic from beginning to end and Hugh just really engaged the audience.

    Class act. And he carried the movie Australia, because it’s one of the few times Nicole’s acting was wooden and her lips were offputting. But Hugh made it worth it.

  6. Scarlet Pimpernel says:

    Just heart-rending.

  7. lucy2 says:

    Wow, that’s amazing he was able to reconnect with her and find some understanding. That’s a tough thing for a kid to go through, but he’s channeled it into being a great father.

  8. Blue says:

    :( that’s so sweet and sad. I can’t imagine being that young and having your mother walk away. I’m so glad that they are close now and he has forgiven her and doesn’t blame her. That takes a really big person.

  9. j.eyre says:

    I had heard this story as well and was impressed with angle he looked at it to understand her side.
    I think its great that he married such a dynamic woman (with a wicked sense of humor)and he seems to be quite a committed father.

    The fact that he is so gall-dren handsome, with the body of Adonis, sexy voice and the ability to dance… I think I just pulled something trying to lick my computer screen.

  10. HoustonGrl says:

    Such a great person. Love him!

  11. Heebeegeebee says:

    I’ve had the opposite experience. My Mother left us (with no warning whatsoever) and I forgave her for many years. Now that I am a parent I can’t imagine doing that to my kids.

  12. JM says:

    Never heard this before . . .what a big heart. . . an inspiration to open our hearts more to forgiveness and understanding.

  13. Lawrence says:

    I had some dealings with Hugh Jackman. While there was no reason for him to be so polite to me as I was there to help him, he was incredibly polite and engaging. I often read how stars are so totally indifferent to even rude but this guy was anything but that and was a real pleasure to deal with. It doesn’t surprise me at all that he’s forgiven his mother.

    I wonder if she would be so quick to make amends if he hadn’t become so wealthy and famous.

    • NerdMomma says:

      Ooh yay I am glad to hear he is everything we all think that he is! I do have such a high opinion of this guy. I don’t know if I would find him attractive if I passed him on the street, but knowing what I know about him makes me think he is the hottest guy in Hollywood.

  14. PrettyTarheel says:

    I think it really shaped how he relates to his children and family. I think the setup they have is wonderful, clearly he’s devoted to his family, even if it’s less than traditional. (No, I’m not referring to the fact that his children are adopted.)

  15. Violet says:

    Hugh is truly lovely person, inside and out. Love him.

  16. Snowpea says:

    My mum left when I was 4 and came back when I was about 8. I have had a hard time understanding it and now I have children, even less so.

    When my kids go to their dad’s in the holidays, I pine for them and can’t wait for them to get back. How my mum stayed away for 4 years seems unbelievable to me, but then she has severe mental health issues so it must go a long way toward explaining it.

    I haven’t heard this story about Hugh before but I am in awe of his forgiveness. Your mother leaving at such a young age has a profound affect on your self esteem, your sense of self, everything.

    I was looked after by a lady who sent me a letter recently. In it, she described the 4 year old me. She said after my mum left, I went mute and stopped talking for a very long time.

  17. mln89 says:

    i can’t even imagine how i would feel if my mother left me as a young child…to be honest, i would probably feel some bitterness on some level for the rest of my life. at least his mother’s mistakes helped him be a better and more consistent and stable parent to HIS children.

  18. mia girl says:

    I didn’t think it was possible to love Hugh Jackman more, but here I am, loving him more.

    His honesty about this is wonderful. Already on this board, you can see how many people had similar situations and felt relatively alone in their experience. Snowpea, Charlotte, Heebeegeebee thanks for sharing with us. I can’t imagine being in that situation.

  19. Wheeler says:

    There’s a world of difference when parents take off to hook up with someone else and when they are sick. Kids know the difference. I am almost certain Hugh said she was hospitalized for 18 months after he was born and then was sick on and off. And the mom did keep in touch & saw them on holidays, she even tried to reconcile with the dad a few years later.

    It’s bad when a parent is abusive or not supportive but it sounds like his dad was ok. It isn’t a great situation but there are far worse stories believe me. I don’t know why he is recycling this story since he has told it often.

  20. nikko says:

    “You can’t go through life obsessing about what might have been — it stops you from being grateful for all the wonderful things you have in your life.”

    I love what he said here. He story touched my heart.

  21. midnightmoon says:

    his son looks like he is about to be a handful. good luck, hugh!
    i didn’t ‘get’ the hugh thing for many years. now irealize-he is one ofthe most talented, versatile, and self-possessed actors out there. Tommygirl WISHES he could be allthat.

    all i want from Hugh is for him to come out. when he’s ready. it will make such a huge difference. he is spectacularly successful, sexier than most actors out there, and undeniably talented on every level.

    it is time, hugh. or maybe when he wins an oscar. he does not seem focussed on that goal, but he is more than capable.

    my best wishes to him and his family. he has EARNED the goodwill the old fashioned way. he is the real deal and i’m so happy not to feel slimed by yet another phony.

    • truetalk says:

      Come out?. Why do you think he’s secretly gay?

      • midnightmoon says:

        there have been MANY stories (and sightings) about him with his male partner, and that his wife is a beard. i do not have any KNOWLEDGE but my instincts tell me he is gay.

        i know ted casablanca had his faults, but there were so many postings, and elsewhere as well. i haven’t done a search lately, but Hugh is one of those who has a LOTTA smoke hanging around him on that subject.

        anyone who reads my comments knows i RARELY address the status of anyone as to gay/straight/in-between, whatever. that is not my deal or my focus. but in this case, i think it’s key to his success in a way. he appeals to men AND women, and has an air about him that is so unassuming and so generous & kind, that if he IS gay, and does come out-look OUT world! i think it would groundbreaking.

        with all his talent, i think he is capable of shattering a major barrier. just sayin’. if anyone could shift the energy around who is gay and who is straight, and what does it matter anyway, i think it would be him.

        i think about Matt Bomer and the guy from Doogie Howser (damn, i can never remember anyone’s names when i want to!) they are groundbreakers for a huge swath of the population. Hugh would be a game changer.

  22. Rose says:

    This is such a heartbreaking story, but his feelings about it and how he handled it just shows what a wonderful person he is. The part where he forgave his mom and how the experience made him such a dedicated family man is the sweet part, what we should take away from this.

    Hugh Jackman is multi-talented, a good person, and gorgeous and he has NO ego! There’s a shortage of people like him in the business.

  23. Shoe_lover says:

    A friend of mine has a home day-care centre and also takes children for a few nights a week who live with their grandparents etc and the grandparents just need a break because they are old etc.
    But three nights a week she has three siblings stay with her. a few years ago their mother abandoned them- their Dad got a call from some guy he didn’t even know saying “I just dropped your wife off at the airport, could you come get you kids”. The kids stay with my friend three nights a week because their Dad has terminal cancer and has no family to help him. They have found the mother, told her the situation you know “your husband is dying, there is no other family. Your children will end up in foster care. You have to come back” but she won’t come back. I don’t know what is going to happen to those kids. My friend wants to take them in but her husband doesn’t seem that receptive. I would take them but I’m not married and therefore I’m deemed unfit to care for them.

  24. dh says:

    I love this man. Im happy for him that he has peace and is open to the relationship. I wish him great happiness-

  25. jk says:

    I am the youngest of 12. When I was not even 6 months old my mother and father bailed on all of us. We were shipped out to relatives and I was adopted. We didnt know each other because some were in other states. I guess it never bothered me or my one brother who was 18 months older than me. BUT it tore up my sisters who were between 5 and 10 when she walked out with her boyfriend and had 2 more kids wih him. They were bitter until the day they died, I felt sorry for them because they always had to prove they were a better mother and parent then anyone else. It takes a lot to forgive someone who abandoned you like that and Jackman has dealt with it well. I give him a lot of credit. Bless him he made peace before it was too late and he took time to understand why it happened.