20th Jan 2013 2:16pm | By Pierre de Villiers
Handsome, funny, a great family man and so talented he now has a Golden Globe award and an Oscar nomination, Hugh Jackman is almost too good to be true.
Tell the Australian he doesn’t appear to have many flaws, though, and he is happy to set the record straight.
“Russell Crowe recently reminded me I’m very bad at saying no,” the Sydney-born star points out, trying to find a skeleton in a squeaky-clean closet.
“I am indecisive, I am a terrible handyman and I can be incredibly vague. Oh, and I stole a pack of Chickadees when I was about eight.”
Jackman could go on Oprah and admit to being involved in a doping scheme or reveal he’s been adding horsemeat to supermarket burgers, and you get the feeling the public would forgive him for it.
Few actors have ever seemed to be such thoroughly decent, stand-up guys as the 44-year-old, his effortless charm and wholehearted approach to acting, whether singing or slicing up bad guys, striking a chord with just about every demographic out there.
Perhaps most notable is how remarkably centred Jackman has remained throughout his career, something he puts down to regular meditation sessions.“Meditation changed my life,” he says.
“Twice a day, it allows me to come back to my centre and who I really am, and drop all the labels – actor, father, husband, all the roles we play, and just to experience myself.
"It’s a simple thing, it’s not a religious thing. It’s just that I find the practice of doing that reminds me of who I really am.”
But who is Jackman, really? Undoubtedly a man who likes to try new things and take risks.
In addition to being a Tony award-winning stage actor, he has managed to veer between film genres.
While the movies have sometimes been dodgy, the actor has always been captivating, whether doing a sweeping epic (Australia), sci-fi (Real Steel), action (Swordfish), superhero movies (X-Men) or providing his voice for animated features (Happy Feet).
This month he adds gross-out comedy to his CV with Movie 43, a slice of lunacy from Peter Farrelly (of Farrelly Brothers fame) in which a huge ensemble cast – including Kate Winslet, Naomi Watts and Halle Berry – make fun of getting your period and pubes.
However, the Jackman performance everyone will be talking about over the next few weeks as we head towards the Oscars will be his startling, Golden Globe-winning turn as Jean Valjean in screen musical Les Misérables.
“Valjean, I think for any actor, is right up there with Hamlet,” he enthuses.
“It’s one that demands everything in the musical sense. It’s not just emotional and physical, but it’s also vocal and so, in every way, it was demanding more than I had ever been asked to play before and often all at once.”
So challenging a prospect was the making of the film – director Tom Hooper insisted cast members sing live on set – that Jackman almost pulled out at the rehearsal stage.
During his Golden Globe acceptance speech he recalled how his wife, Deborra-Lee Furness, talked him out of quitting, calling her “the greatest woman in the world”.
It was an emotional moment that underlined the important role Furness has played in keeping the star grounded and on the right track as far as his profession is concerned.