Wolverine's Foxy LadyWhat's it like being married to the hottest man on Broadway? Deborra-Lee Furness opens up about life with Hugh Jackman, crazy fans and her other great love—family.
Photo: David Needleman
It was 1994, and Mick Jagger had just rolled into Melbourne. Deborra-Lee Furness' friends were urging her to join the rocker's party, but the Australian actress had other plans.
"I'm having dinner with Hugh Jackman," she told them.
"Hugh who?" they replied.
That was 17 years ago, a century in showbiz terms, before X-Men and Wolverine and light-years from Broadway's The Boy from Oz, in which Jackman's pitch-perfect take on the late Peter Allen sparked rumors about which team he bats for.
Surely no one is saying "Hugh who?" when they hear about this season's hottest ticket: Hugh Jackman, Back on Broadway, now igniting the kind of frenzy that once greeted Frank Sinatra and Judy Garland. Then again, no one threw a pair of furry handcuffs at the girl from Oz, as someone did at Jackman's show during a run in San Francisco last spring.
Standing in the eye of this storm is Furness, Jackman's wife of 15 years. By all accounts—from their friends,their hairdresser,the people who work with them for the children's relief organization World Vision and other charities—she's his best friend and soul mate.
Try telling that to his fans.
"I've been almost pummeled as people try to get to him," says Furness, a quick-witted 56-year-old with a ready smile. "Literally, they will push you out of the way." To which she's tempted to say, "Hi, I'm chopped liver. How do you do?"
A long-legged champagne blonde with short, unlacquered fingernails ("I bite 'em!"), Furness was a star before her husband was, leaving Melbourne at 18 to study at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York ("People used to tell me, 'You really picked up the language fast!' and I'd say, 'We speak English there!' ") before returning to Australia to make movies. These days she tries hard to fly under the radar, inasmuch as that's possible when you're married to the Sexiest Man Alive.
She sighs at the mentionof it.