Hugh Jackman has spoken out for the first time since announcing his separation from his wife of 27 years, Deborra-Lee Furness.
The 54-year-old Australian actor told photographers while out in New York City on September 16 that “it’s a difficult time,” as seen in footage obtained by TMZ.
“I appreciate your thoughts, thank you,” he added.
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The couple announced the separation in a joint statement.
“We have been blessed to share almost three decades together as husband and wife in a wonderful, loving marriage,” Jackman and Furness told People.
“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.”
Their statement was signed, “Deb and Hugh Jackman,” and concluded, “This is the sole statement either of us will make.”
Following the announcement, a report surfaced the relationship was “strained” by the COVID pandemic and current writers’ strike in Hollywood, which has put filming of his Deadpool 3 project on hold.
“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,” a source told the Daily Mail.
“They worked on it and couldn’t get it back.”
The source added that the writers’ strike in Hollywood hadn’t “helped one bit”.
The couple first met on the set of Australian TV drama Corelli in 1995, and the chemistry was said to be instant.
Jackman and Furness went on to marry in April 1996 and welcomed two children by adoption, Oscar, 23, and Ava, 18.
Furness has been a long-time advocate for adoption, founding Adopt Change in 2008 with a small group of volunteers.
According to the website, the organisation was in response to “the needs of children who had been orphaned or were living in temporary care, along with the challenges and distress experienced by children and families navigating the complex adoption processes in Australia”.
Jackman celebrated the couple’s 27th wedding anniversary in April, sharing a sweet message on his Instagram.
“I love you Deb, today is our 27th wedding anniversary. 27 YEARS!! I love you so much,” he said.
“Together we have created a beautiful family. And life.
“Your laughter, your spirit, generosity, humour, cheekiness, courage and loyalty is an incredible gift to me. I love you with all my heart.”
The couple have been red carpet mainstays for years, posing together at the Oscars, at Broadway events and at the Met Gala, including the most recent edition in May.
They attended Wimbledon together in July.
Furness, 67, is an advocate for orphans and adoption, especially in her native Australia, and one of the founding members of National Adoption Awareness Week.
Jackman, who played the superhero Wolverine in several movies, is reprising the role in Deadpool 3, which is on hold due to the actors strike.
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