Jackman gives to next generation of stars
Star power: Hugh Jackman with X-Men: Days of Future Past co-stars Fan Bingbing and Peter Dinklage at the film's Australian premiere. Picture: Getty Images

Hollywood heavyweight Hugh Jackman dreams of one day returning to his alma mater - the WA Academy of Performing Arts - to teach the next generation of stars.

In an exclusive interview in New York this month, Jackman told The Weekend West that the education he received at WAAPA was his launching pad to super-stardom.

At a gala event today at his Mt Lawley stamping ground, Jackman will launch the Jackman Furness Foundation for the Performing Arts, which he and wife Deborra-lee hope will become the Harvard University of the entertainment industry.

"What I learnt in Perth over those three years has made everything possible for me," Jackman said.

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The actor, 45, who stars as Wolverine in the latest X-Men film Days of Future Past, will meet students as he launches the foundation, which will help fund scholarships and exchanges as well as support for teachers.

He said he was inspired by his own teachers and would love to return the favour.

"At some point I'd love to do some teaching, I would love to come back for a period," Jackman said, adding with a laugh: "I don't think I'll be the greatest teacher."

The Foundation boasts actor Jack Thompson as its patron (Thompson's son Bill graduated from WAAPA last year) and local businessman Geoff Michael as trustee.

Last year, when Mr Michael and partner Flora Liveris lost their newborn son Marcos, Jackman and Furness anonymously donated $30,000 to a fundraising drive to buy the kind of vital equipment that was used to care for Marcos at Princess Margaret Hospital's paediatric intensive care unit.

Jackman retains a strong affinity with Perth after spending three years studying at the academy in the 1990s.

He fondly remembers shared-house living and a frugal university student diet of Vietnamese and Hare Krishna food, as well as the leftovers he would scrounge from the dishes he washed at Valentino's in Northbridge.

Jackman and Furness are urging other West Australians to contribute to their foundation, which will have a special focus on indigenous students.

"We want to ensure that there is equal opportunity for them to know about places like WAAPA, to have a chance to audition, to understand what it's about and to feel comfortable there - to feel in every way that it is a place for everybody," he said.

It will also help fund a visiting artist's program and give students the opportunity to travel to the West End in London and Broadway, where the actor made his name as Peter Allen in the Boy From Oz.


The West Australian

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