Hugh Jackman and his wife Deborra-Lee Furness’ marriage has been “broken” by the COVID pandemic, according to an insider who claimed the ongoing writers’ strike has further exacerbated their marital breakdown.
The Australian couple, who are parents to son Oscar, 23, and daughter Ava, 18, announced in a joint statement on Friday that they were ending their marriage after nearly three decades.
Lockdown put a strain on their relationship, and despite their efforts to save their marriage, the couple decided the “best option” was to part ways as friends.
“They are forever, forever linked to the children they have,” a source exclusively told DailyMail.com. “But after the last few years, the love they had for each other turned into more of a friendship that fell apart during COVID, as the lockdown didn’t help their marriage at all and really put a strain on their relationship.”
Hugh Jackman and Deborra-Lee Furness pictured in April 2020 during a COVID lockdown
The couple, photographed in 1997 in Australia, announced their separation on Friday.
Covid and ongoing writers’ strike are behind the breakdown of their marriage, says insider
They continued: “They worked on it and couldn’t get it back. The strikes didn’t help at all, it put them in the same predicament as COVID, where they were just kicking the tires, and Hugh found that it all no longer had the same magic as before.
“Deb had similar concerns and thoughts and separation is the best option.”
The insider added: “They will never speak negatively about each other, it’s just that time has passed for them and they now accept this fate.”
A rep for Jackman, 54, confirmed that COVID and the writers’ strike had an impact on their relationship.
The former couple announced the devastating news of their official separation on Friday.
“We have been fortunate to share nearly three decades together as husband and wife in a wonderful and loving marriage,” they said in a joint statement.
“Our journey is now changing and we have decided to separate to pursue our individual growth.
“Our family has been and always will be our biggest priority. We begin this next chapter with gratitude, love and kindness.
The confinement linked to the coronavirus would have put their relationship to the test.
Jackman asked Furness to marry him just weeks after the couple started dating – and they married in 1996
Jackman and Furness, who are 13 years older, celebrated their 27th anniversary in April this year
They concluded to PEOPLE: “We greatly appreciate your understanding of respecting our privacy as our family goes through this transition in all of our lives. This is the only statement either of us will make.
A Broadway insider told PageSix their split wasn’t a shock, saying “it happened a while ago.”
They suggested there appeared to be problems before Jackman returned to Broadway in February 2022 for The Music Man, with the insider adding: “Deb wasn’t at rehearsals much.”
Their split comes five months after they celebrated their 27th wedding anniversary in April, with the Wolverine star posting a heartwarming tribute to his wife on Instagram.
“I love you Deb. Today is our 27th wedding anniversary. 27 years! I love you so much,” he captioned the post, shared with his 79.1 million followers.
“Together we created a beautiful family. And life. Your laughter, your wit, your generosity, your humor, your insolence, your courage and your loyalty are an incredible gift to me. I love you with all my heart.’
Jackman and Furness, who is 13 years his senior, met in 1995 on the Australian television series Correlli, with the Wolverine actor later saying he knew they “would be together for the rest of our lives”.
They married a year later, in April 1996, and became parents in 2000 when they adopted their son Oscar. They adopted a second child, daughter Ava Eliot, five years later.
They are parents of two children; Oscar, 23, and Ava, 18, whom they adopted together
The estranged couple released a joint statement saying they were moving forward “with gratitude, love and kindness.”
Jackman has never been shy about talking about his marriage and opened up about the key to a healthy relationship in February.
“I think honesty, intimacy and saving time (are the secret to a long and happy marriage). You can’t just assume things will go as planned. You have to take the time,” he told Smooth Radio.
In an interview, he called his wife his “best friend” and the main source of support in his career and personal life.
Jackman said of his partner: “I’m married to the greatest woman in the world. She is incredible. We are best friends and we share everything. She is intelligent.’
Speaking about how they never spend more than two weeks apart, he explained that it’s because they want to “share everything” together.
He continued: “We always said we would never spend more than two weeks apart. Sometimes life and work get crazy.
“But we met at my first job when she was already a big star, I was a nobody. So we shared everything, all the ups and downs, and we always will.
The couple had made several public appearances together this year, including at the Met Gala in May and at Wimbledon in London in June.
They were even photographed kissing on the red carpet at the Venice Film Festival last September.