Today’s Birthday, November 30: Australian actress, director and philanthropist Deborra-Lee Furness (1955)
Deborra-Lee Furness’ husband recently revealed a little-known story about the moment he realised she was the one.
The pair had met on the set of the 1995 Australian prison drama Corelli; she was the star and he was a no-name actor in his first job who eventually worked up the courage to invite her and a number of other friends to his home for dinner.
While at dinner Furness received a call from a friend who was in a limousine outside with Rolling Stones star Mick Jagger, begging her to come and party with them.
“I’ll never forget it, Deb goes: ‘You can tell Mick that I’m with Hugh Jackman’,” her besotted husband told Stephen Colbert’s Late Show.
She stayed, and the pair were married by the next year.
Furness says she knew early on that fame was just an illusion and now, years later, that same sense of self sees her secure in the knowledge that she is far more than just Hugh Jackman’s wife.
Born on November 30 1955 in Perth, Furness grew up in Melbourne before moving to New York to study at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.
After appearing in a series of small TV roles on her return Down Under, Furness scored the lead in the 1988 film Shame. Furness played a lawyer who rides into a small country town looking for parts for her motorbike and ends up championing a young woman who is raped.
She says it’s still her favourite role.
Furness went on to star in further films including Voyager, Jindabyne and Angel Baby as well as on TV in Neighbours, Corelli, Fire and mini-series Stark.
She also tried her hand at directing and her debut Standing Room Only came from a script she wrote herself.
But while things in her professional life and marriage appeared to go from strength to strength, Furness faced a battle when it came to having children.
She suffered devastating miscarriages and an IVF battle before she and Jackman turned to adoption, which gave them their children Oscar and Ava.
Experiencing the reality of adoption led Furness to another great passion and she has fearlessly campaigned to overhaul adoption laws in Australia.
In 2008 Furness started National Adoption Awareness Week to highlight the difficulties faced by families trying to adopt. She’s also a World Vision ambassador and executive director of the Worldwide Orphans Foundation and sits on the board of the UN Women for Peace Association. Her work saw her named as the NSW Australian of the Year in 2014.
It’s a fitting award for a person who once said she wants to be remembered as someone who worked to bring people together.