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Many women would consider being married to Hugh Jackman prize enough all by itself. However, if you are actually married to Jackman, as Deborra-Lee Furness is, there are added bonuses like being serenaded during a concert. 

Jackman has been touring the U.S. and delighting audiences with his musical theater talents. The stage and screen veteran sings songs from, among others, Les Miserables, The Boy from Oz, and of course, The Greatest Showman

Here’s the story of how Jackman and his wife met, how she was a bigger deal than he was, and how Jackman’s fame almost didn’t happen at all.

How Hugh Jackman and his wife met

Hugh Jackman
Hugh Jackman | Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

Jackman met Furness before he was famous, having worked with her on the set of the Australian TV show Correlli in 1995, five years before Jackman became widely known via the X-Men franchise. This was Jackman’s first professional job, Furness was already very well known in Australia, and that made Jackman nervous.

He told People: “Deb, she was a big star. 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.'”

Jackman had a crush, and he thought that was risky and unprofessional, especially so early in his career. Luckily for Jackman, the feeling was mutual. 

Jackman recalls: “She said, ‘I noticed you haven’t talked to me in like a week, what’s going on?’ I said, ‘I 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.”

How Hugh Jackman and Deborra-Lee Furness keep their marriage going 

The couple married in 1996 and have adopted two children: son Oscar Maximilian and daughter Ava Eliot. Like all couples, they’ve had their ups and downs, but Jackman makes a point of keeping his marriage strong by always reaching out to his wife. Before his stage appearances, he puts his hand on his heart and looks to his wife in the audience — and sometimes goes even further than that.

At one of his recent shows in New York City, Jackman sang Frank Sinatra’s “All the Way” directly to his wife, coming down from the stage to where she was in the audience. That was a song they danced to at their wedding. 

Jackman told USA Today: “I managed to talk her out of (breaking up with me), thank God. I’m a very indecisive person, Deb really knows this about me. I can count on my hand the amount of times in my life anything has felt that clear to me.”

Hugh Jackman almost missed his big break

While Jackman was lucky that Furness reciprocated his crush, he lucked out in a different way in his career. He was not the first choice to play Wolverine in X-Men

The 2000 film had already cast Dougray Scott in the role, but Scott was busy shooting Mission: Impossible 2 with Tom Cruise. However, that film ran way over schedule, with director John Woo initially submitting a three-hour cut. As a result, Scott became unavailable for X-Men, and Fox had to recast the part fast, according to Screen Rant. 

As fans often do, they griped that Jackman was all wrong, complaining he was too clean-shaven, but Jackman proved the naysayers wrong, becoming a star in his own right, just as his wife was in Australia when they first met.