July 12, 2021


#168 – Hugh Jackman: Reflections on acting, identity, personal transformation, and the significance of being Wolverine

The world will always need people who are going to do what they love. But know when enough is enough. More is not always better in terms of consuming or just achievement. Be disciplined about doing less.” —Hugh Jackman

Read Time 23 minutes

Hugh Jackman is an award-winning actor and an overall fascinating and introspective individual. In this episode, Hugh reflects upon his acting career, including how he navigated many tough decisions that led to important professional turning points for him. Peter and Hugh have an intimate discussion related to handling professional criticism, self-identity, spirituality, raising kids, and the role that past trauma often plays in extremely driven individuals. Hugh gives the inside scoop on some of his most well-known character roles and explains how he finds the energy to consistently perform. Finally, they tie the conversation together with a discussion on the importance of physical and mental health and wellbeing.



We discuss:

  • Hugh’s voracious curiosity and early years of his acting career [2:15];
  • Self-identity, overworking, and the importance of living well [9:15];
  • Handling criticism and letting go of the desire to please everyone [18:30];
  • Dismissing vitriol on social media, and the challenge of communicating science [28:15];
  • Going with your gut and the value in finding the right partner [31:30];
  • A hard decision that lead to a turning point a turning point in Hugh’s life [40:15];
  • How driven personalities often develop from a place of trauma, and how to avoid going from productive to destructive [47:00];
  • The effect of fame on Hugh’s family [58:45];
  • How Hugh finds the energy to consistently perform, and the spiritual connection he feels when acting [1:07:15];
  • Hugh’s experiences on the set of The Fountain and the meaning behind the film [1:26:30];
  • The potential of imagination, the idea of a higher power, and thoughts on science vs. religion [1:33:45];
  • The deep connection Hugh felt to Logan (his character in Wolverine) [1:41:45];
  • Reflections on physical aging, emotional wellbeing, and longevity [1:55:15]; and
  • More


Hugh’s voracious curiosity and early years of his acting career [2:15]

  • Hugh is sorry they couldn’t meet in person because they enjoy meals at each other’s houses (2:17)
  • In a slightly different format, Peter and Hugh will have a discussion, not an interview, because Hugh is the “most curious person” he knows because he is “just immediately obsessed with and interested in every detail of what another person knows and how they’ve come to know it”
  • Hugh says he always asks question in interviews because he gets bored talking about himself (3:57)

“If you think about my job, my job is human nature. If you’re an actor and you’re not curious about people, it’s going to be a real struggle” —Hugh Jackman

Peter’s daughter Olivia asked him to ask Hugh when he knew he was good enough to make it in his chosen profession

  • Hugh says it was when he was 28 and got a job at the Royal National Theater in London
  • The stats at Hugh’s school in Australia were that about 5% can make a living from acting
  • Sir Trevor Nunn is one of the great theater directors of all time, and Hugh admired his work with the Royal Shakespeare Company and in Les Misérables, Nicholas Nickleby, and other shows
    • When Nunn came to Australia doing Sunset Boulevard, Hugh asked to audition with Nunn even though he didn’t want to be in a musical “because I was getting pigeonholed into that world”
    • Ended up deciding to do whatever would allow him to work with Nunn, and Nunn took him to London to be in Oklahoma!
    • Hugh is grateful that Nunn gave him the confidence to know he could work internationally
  • Peter says it’s similar to athletes who “show these glimmers of greatness early on, but you’re still constantly evolving in the craft” (6:54)
    • Early on, no one could have predicted what Tom Brady could do
    • Brady got his chance when Drew Bledsoe was injured in the 2001 season, and he was able to perform due to all his preparation
  • Hugh did not feel that he just needed an opportunity to unleash his potential
    • it felt more incremental to him
    • He lacked the brazen confidence of an athlete who asks the coach for the ball, but he had the courage to try (7:46)
    • It wasn’t really courage or confidence, but rather wanting to make sure that he didn’t “miss an opportunity to try and to grow”
  • Even though he was amazed that he was working with Nunn, who had worked with the greats like Judy Dench, Patrick Stewart, and Ian McKellen, his repartee with Nunn made him feel like he was in the right place 

Self-identity, overworking, and the importance of living well [9:15]

  • Hugh says that Peter is “obviously one of the most successful doctors in the world” and wonders when he realized the he could take care of “some of the most demanding high achieving people on the planet”
    • Peter says he hasn’t reached a point where he feels like he can do everything

{end of show notes preview}

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Hugh Jackman

Hugh Jackman is an actor, singer, and producer who has worked on the stage, in musical theater, and in film. Best known for his role as Wolverine/Logan in the X-Men movies, he has also played the lead role in Kate & Leopold (2001), Van Helsing (2004), The Prestige (2006), The Fountain (2006), Australia (2008), Les Misérables (2012), Prisoners (2013), and The Greatest Showman (2017).  He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor and won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy for his role as Jean Valjean in the movie version of Les Misérables.  He won the 2004 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical for his role in The Boy from Oz. He has hosted both the Tony Awards and the Academy Awards and was appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia. He is married to the actress Deborra-Lee Furness and has two children, Oscar and Ava.

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  1. where do I find the print-out of the Hugh Jackman interview. And others in the future. I prefer to read your interviews.
    Ron Harwin

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