A Timeline Of Hugh Jackman And Deborra-Lee Furness' Relationship From Beginning To End

Actor Hugh Jackman's star has practically been on the rise since he first took to the stage at age 5 to play the role of King Richard in "Camelot." Born in Sydney, Australia, in 1968, Jackman continued honing his acting, dancing, and singing skills in school before accepting his first big role in 1995 on the Australian series titled "Correlli." On the set of this series is where he met his future wife, Deborra-Lee Furness, an established actor 13 years his senior. 

The pair would quickly embark on a whirlwind romance and remain together for 27 years. The couple's separation in September 2023 came as a shock to fans, particularly as Jackman often posted declarations of admiration and affection for his wife on social media. Their 27th anniversary was no exception. "I love you Deb. Today is our 27th wedding anniversary. 27 YEARS!! I love you so much," he gushed in an Instagram post. "Together we have created a beautiful family. And life. Your laughter, your spirit, generosity, humor, cheekiness, courage and loyalty is an incredible gift to me. I love you with all my heart."

So how did Jackman and Furness go from falling in love on set to breaking up a quarter-century later? Here's a closer look at the timeline of their relationship.

Hugh Jackman developed a crush on Deborra-Lee Furness right away

Hugh Jackman's interest in Deborra-Lee Furness was sparked from the moment they met in a car ride to the set of "Correlli." "Deb, she was a big star. I get picked up, and Deb is in the front seat of the car. I'll never forget," he reminisced to People. "She took off her seatbelt, 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.'" As his crush on her deepened, he tried to resist acting on his feelings because he knew that pursuing an on-set relationship with his co-star would be frowned upon. 

To that end, he took to ignoring her for several days. His silent treatment, however, would soon be put to the wayside in favor of romance. One evening, when he was hosting a dinner, he invited her into the kitchen to make a time-consuming dish, knowing that it would afford him some extended time alone with her. He recalled what happened once they were away from his other guests. "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," Jackman recalled.

Jackman 'knew two weeks into meeting Deb' that they would go the distance

Despite their efforts to keep their budding romance hush-hush on the "Correlli" set for several weeks, it quickly became apparent that everyone knew what was happening between them. The "Wolverine" star also acknowledged that he was far from the only one who was smitten with Deborra-Lee Furness. "She was the star. I had this major crush on her. Everyone did. The whole crew had a crush on her." he told Ellen DeGeneres on her eponymous talk show.

In a 2018 interview with Willie Geist of "Today," Jackman recounted how quickly his feelings for Furness developed. "I knew two weeks into meeting Deb that we were going to be together for the rest of our lives." He also recalled their near-instant connection and talked about how fortunate he felt to meet his life partner so early in his career. "In the end, what do you want from your life partner? You want to be fully seen, and you want to be able to fully see them for exactly who you really are. And Deb and I had that from the beginning."

She tried to break up with him early in the relationship

Even though they had an undeniable chemistry both on- and offscreen right from the jump, Deborra-Lee Furness attempted to break up with Hugh Jackman just a few weeks into their relationship. He suspected that she was planning to dump him and shared details about the incident on the "Aussies in Hollywood" podcast (via People). "She kind of [broke up with me], a little bit. Early on, three weeks in. I managed to talk her out of it, 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, and when it happens, it's such a relief for me." Jackman revealed that even as Furness was attempting to break up with him, he knew, without a doubt, that he wanted to be with her.

Furness' reluctance to carry on with the relationship came down to her efforts to follow through with her New Year's resolution, which was to avoid dating actors and anyone under 30 — and Jackman fit both categories. Much to his delight, however, Furness eventually got past her concerns and said yes when he proposed several months later. 

The pair married in 1996

Before proposing to Deborra-Lee Furness, Hugh Jackman set out to purchase an engagement ring; however, he didn't know much about the process.

Furness shared on the "Enough Rope" podcast that Jackman ended up "[turning] her personality into a diamond ring." She explained, "Well, he was very nervous because he didn't have a clue about jewelry or diamonds, and he just went in there, and he said, and then he said, 'I don't know what I'm doing, so I'll just tell you a bit about Deb,' and this poor jeweler he sat there for an hour and a half and bored him endlessly giving every nuance of my personality, but in the end the guy said, Yeah, okay, here's the ring, here's the diamond.'" The couple tied the knot in April 1996 at St. John's Anglican Church in Victoria, Australia. 

In celebration of their 25th wedding anniversary, Jackman shared several photos from the big day on Instagram. He captioned the pictures: "Being married to you Deb is as natural as breathing. From nearly the moment we met ... I knew our destiny was to be together. In our 25 years – our love has only grown deeper." He continued, writing, "We've only just begun. Deb, I love you with all my heart!"

They immediately tried to get pregnant

As Deborra-Lee Furness was 40 when she and Hugh Jackman married, the couple immediately set about growing their family. "We struggled, a couple miscarriages, IVF — it's not easy, particularly on Deb," Jackman told People. The couple decided to pursue adoption, moving through the process in a way that may have been unconventional for some but worked for them. 

They adopted their first child, Oscar, in 2000 from a young woman who flew out from Iowa and ended up staying with them in Los Angeles until she gave birth. Furness shared what it was like being the parent of a mixed-race child with People, saying, "When my son was younger, he found out he was part Bosnian, so we went and got this Croatian/Bosnian cookbook, and he was very proud to carry that around when he was 7 years old." 

In 2005, the couple welcomed a second child, daughter Ava, via adoption and completed their family. Continuing their quest to embrace their children's cultural backgrounds, they have also gone to great lengths to honor her Mexican lineage. "What I'm very interested in is epigenetics, and it's even more so when you have adopted children because I'm coming from my lineage of my mother, how she parented me, how her mother parented her, and I'm translating that to my children," Furness told People.

They were public about their love for each other

With Hugh Jackman's career largely taking center stage over the years, Deborra-Lee Furness continued acting but seemed content with being a mom and supportive spouse. Showing their affection for each other on the red carpet was not out of the ordinary, and Jackman was often effusive about his feelings for his wife. He told Ellen Degeneres that she was "the greatest thing that ever happened to me" and went on to reveal, "I'm kind of really grateful that I met [her] before anything kind of happened" (via Today). Jackman regularly posted heartfelt birthday wishes on Instagram and, in January 2022, gave her a shoutout for being named an Officer of the Order of Australia. 

Back in 2012, he was especially moved when, after having been apart for an extended period of time, Furness surprised him by presenting him with a Special Tony Award for his work on Broadway and as a humanitarian. "I love you with all my heart. I know how much you hate public speaking. This is probably the greatest thing you've ever done for me," he said in his acceptance speech (via People).

Furness also created a really special gift for Jackman's 50th birthday in 2018. "I actually made him a beautiful photo book all about his whole life right from when he was a kid and I reached out to all these directors and these kids he grew up with," she told People.

Rumors swirled throughout their marriage

Hugh Jackman and Deborra-Lee Furness have been called upon to defend their relationship during the course of their lengthy marriage. The gossip mill has long been fueled with rumors about Jackman's sexuality, which began back in 2003 when he and a fellow male actor shared an on-stage kiss while performing their roles in "The Boy From Oz." Recognizing at one point that the scuttlebutt had started to bother his wife, he told "60 Minutes Australia" in 2013, "If I was [gay], I would be." 

Rumors of a breakup were also reportedly prevalent in some circles. "For a while on the Broadway scene there was a rumour there might be something going on in that marriage," Cooper Lawrence, radio personality and broadcaster, told "Sunrise" (via 7News). She continued, saying, "As soon as they sold their three-floor apartment [in 2022] ... and downsized and then shipped a bunch of furniture home to Sydney, it was like 'What's really going on here?'"

After Jackman and Furness confirmed their separation in September 2023, a Broadway insider alleged to Page Six that the breakup "happened a while ago. Friends and family knew about it." The source claimed that their distance was growing apparent, even before Jackman started rehearsing for Broadway's "The Music Man" in 2022. "Deb wasn't at rehearsals very much," the source claimed, adding that she "was even spotted snoozing during some of them."

The pandemic reportedly took a toll on their relationship

As it did for many people, the pandemic reportedly added stress to Hugh Jackman and Deborra-Lee Furness' relationship and ultimately played a pivotal role in the breakdown of their 27-year marriage. An inside source alleged to the Daily Mail, "They are forever linked, forever together with the children they have. But after the past few years, the love they had for each other turned more into a friendship which got broken during COVID, as the lockdown didn't help their marriage at all and really put a strain on their relationship." 

The source also divulged that the writers' strike added even more pressure to a marriage that was already disintegrating. "They worked on it and couldn't get it back," the insider alleged. "The strikes haven't helped one bit, it got them in the same predicament as COVID did, to where they were just kicking the tires, and Hugh found it all to not have the same magic as they once had."

After the couple confirmed their separation, Hello! magazine reported that they'd put their prized East Hampton, New York property up for rent. Perhaps this was a telltale sign that initially went unnoticed. 

The couple 'decided to separate to pursue ... individual growth'

Sadly, what appeared to be one of Hollywood's strongest marriages was revealed to be headed for the finish line. On September 15, 2023, Hugh Jackman and Deborra-Lee Furness issued a joint statement to People. "We have been blessed to share almost 3 decades together as husband and wife in a wonderful, loving marriage," the joint statement read. "Our journey now is shifting and we have decided to separate to pursue our individual growth. Our family has been and always will be our highest priority. We undertake this next chapter with gratitude, love, and kindness. We greatly appreciate your understanding in respecting our privacy as our family navigates this transition in all of our lives." The once-happy husband and wife concluded the statement, writing, "This is the sole statement either of us will make."

Shortly after the heartbreaking announcement, a TMZ reporter approached Jackman on the street to inquire about the "individual growth" referenced in the exes' statement. Jackman's response was all class but tight-lipped nonetheless. "I don't feel quite right about talking about it on the street," the actor began, "but I appreciate your thoughts, man."

Here's hoping that both Jackman and Furness find happiness in the future, no matter what happens with their marriage