Hugh Jackman opens up about suffering from anxiety whilst filming ‘The Son’

Hugh Jackman

Hugh Jackman has opened up about suffering from anxiety whilst he was shooting his latest film, The Son. The 54-year-old actor stars alongside Laura Dern, Vanessa Kirby and Sir Anthony Hopkins in the new drama, which explores absentee parenting and the effects of divorce on children as well as adolescent mental illness.

Jackman admitted that the movie’s subject matter and the return to work following COVID-19 lockdowns caused him to experience “anxiety”.

The actor’s troubles were compounded by the death of his dad Christopher, who died in September 2021.

Jackman suffered sleepless nights while playing the role of Peter, a workaholic with a new partner, young baby, an ex-wife and their troubled teenage son. The star says he continues to consult a therapist who helped him through filming.

The film’s producers also employed psychiatrists on set in case members of the cast and crew needed to talk about the upsetting material.

“This was the first time I’d ever seen such a thing on a film,” says Jackman, “and people used it and it was necessary.”

While intimacy coaches have become commonplace when sex scenes are being filmed, Jackman advocates mental health support as well.

“There’s a little part of the old school part of my brain (that thinks), ‘Well, that’s up to you to work out.’ If you need to go to a doctor, for whatever reason, your foot, your mental health, you know, you work that out.

“But I think it certainly would be a sign from an employer that we understand taking care of the whole person, not just paying them, but taking care of their wellbeing in all forms is really, really important.”

Jackman says he hopes The Son will spark conversations around mental health issues “that are urgently needed”.

He says: “There is a real lack of knowledge and ignorance and shame around the subject and I think it’s something we need to confront, really, really quickly.”

See-Saw films, which produced The Son, worked with the Film and TV Charity, which has developed a free industry-wide resource to destigmatise poor mental health in film and TV.

The charity’s 2021 Looking Glass survey found that nine in 10 people working in the sector had experienced a mental health problem.

The Whole Picture Toolkit offers guidance and advice on supporting mental health and wellbeing on set and pre and post-production and, so far, the kit has been adopted by 35 productions.

In another interview with Who magazine, Jackman opened up about undergoing therapy to help heal his traumatic family past.

The Australian star was just eight years old when his mum Grace McNeil left for the UK – and didn’t come back. It was much later that mother and son reunited, and Jackman has since shared that he forgave her and they formed a special bond.

“I just started it (the therapy) recently. It’s helped me a lot. We all need a village.”

“You need a friend you can unload everything (on) – having someone really smart, who’s a little a bit removed from your world, can be really helpful.”

“(It’s about) understanding my past and how it’s informing my thinking unconsciously – getting to really understand some of the patterns that I was unconsciously just repeating. And, most importantly, (it’s) helping me to be more relational with the people I love in my life, and really understanding and living in their shoes and being clear to be able to see them.”

The Son will be released in the UK on the 10th February 2023.

Watch the trailer below:

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