Hugh Jackman says he 'wasn't sleeping' while making 'The Son': 'There was a lot of stuff coming up for me'

Hugh Jackman is opening up about bereavement after the death of his father, Christopher Jackman.

In a recent interview, the actor, 54, spoke about how he resisted taking time off to grieve for his father in Sept. 2021 while filming his latest movie, The Son.

"My father never missed a day of work,” he said. “I could feel him. I knew if he could talk to me, he’d be like, ‘You got to go to work! What are you talking about?’ I felt his presence on the set.”

Hugh Jackman is opening up about grief, art and how the two have recently collided in his latest film, The Son. (Marc Hom for Variety)
Hugh Jackman is opening up about grief, art and how the two have collided while filming his latest project, The Son. (Marc Hom for Variety)

In The Son, Jackman plays a workaholic dad who struggles to emotionally care for his family. Filming the movie in the middle of grieving, he explains, helped him tap into some of the more emotional scenes.

“I literally could see him in the corner of the room,” he said. “I had an image of him on set, standing behind the action. My father worked incredibly hard — looking after five kids, the weight of the world on his shoulders. I had the feeling of him being completely free. That really helped me.”

Christopher had been living with Alzheimer's for 12 years before his death.

“He was nearing the end. So he was ostensibly gone, mentally," Jackman recalls of his last visits with his dad. "He would still smile a bit. I didn’t know he was going to physically pass away, but I knew it was kind of a goodbye."

The emotional rollercoaster of filming the movie taught him how to be a more present parent for his children: Ava, 17, and Oscar, 22, both of whom he shares with his wife Deborra-Lee Furness.

“The movie itself did change me as a parent," he said. "I’m more vulnerable in front of my kids emotionally. I’m more verbal about stuff I’m going through, even if it’s stuff to do with them.”

The Son star says mourning the death of his father taught him how to be a more present parent for his two children. (Marc Hom for Variety)

While his father’s health deteriorated, Jackman says he entered therapy for the first time to help him cope. Still, much of that grief manifested into sleepless nights.

“I don’t think I’m a great sleeper,” he shared. “But I have always been able to go to sleep quickly and sleep as long as I wanted. But not on this [film]. I look back now and I’m like, ‘Of course I wasn’t sleeping.’ There’s some history of mental illness in my family, and there was a lot of stuff coming up for me.”

It wasn't always like that though. The self-titled "morning person" says he learned how to appreciate physical and mental health while working one of his first jobs at a gym in Sydney, Australia.

“I was the guy opening the gym, and in my first three weeks, I slept in twice,” he recalled. “If you want to see angry people, it’s alpha people who want to be at the gym when it opens.”

When thinking of those days, he recalls being the butt of jokes because he was "super skinny."

“All the guys used to make fun of me. They nicknamed me ‘Anna,'" he said, noting that the name was shorthand for anorexia. “I used to think they were idiots. I was like, ‘You spend all your day looking in a mirror. What a waste of time.’”

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