Hugh Jackman and his wife Deborra-Lee Furness’ marriage was left ‘broken’ by the COVID pandemic, according to an insider who claimed the ongoing writers’ strike 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 are ending their marriage after nearly three decades.
Lockdown put a ‘strain’ on their relationship, and despite working to save their marriage, the couple decided that the ‘best option’ was to split as friends.
‘They are forever linked, forever together with the children they have,’ a source told DailyMail.com exclusively. ‘But 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.’
They continued: ‘They worked on it and couldn’t get it back. The strikes haven’t helped one bit, it got them in the same predicament as COVID did, to where they were just kicking the tires, and Hugh found it all to not have the same magic as they once had.
‘Deb had similar concerns and thoughts and separating is the best option.’
The insider added: ‘They will never talk negatively about each other, just time has passed for them and they are now accepting that fate.’
A representative for Jackman, 54, confirmed that COVID and the writers strike had impacted their relationship.
The estranged couple announced the devastating news that they are officially parting ways on Friday.
‘We have been blessed to share almost 3 decades together as husband and wife in a wonderful, loving marriage,’ they said in a joint statement.
‘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.’
They concluded to PEOPLE: ‘We greatly appreciate your understanding in respecting our privacy as our family navigates this transition in all of our lives. This is the sole statement either of us will make.’
A Broadway insider told PageSix that their split was not a shock, claiming ‘it happened a while ago’.
They suggested that 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 very much.’
Their split comes five months after they celebrated their 27th wedding anniversary in April, with the Wolverine star posting a gushing 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 to his 79.1 million followers.
‘Together we have created a beautiful family. And life. Your laughter, your spirit, generosity, humor, cheekiness, courage, and loyalty is 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 TV show Correlli, with the Wolverine actor later claiming that he knew they were ‘going to be together for the rest of our lives’.
They got 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.
Jackman has never been shy about speaking on his marriage, and opened up about the key to a healthy relationship back in February.
‘I think honesty and intimacy and making time [are the secret to a long and happy marriage]. You can’t just assume that things will just tick along okay. You have to make time,’ he told Smooth Radio.
In an interview, he called his wife his ‘best friend’ and main source of support in both his career, and personal life.
Jackman said of his partner: ‘I’m married to the greatest woman alive. She’s amazing. We’re best friends, and we share everything. She’s smart.’
Talking about how they never spend longer than two weeks apart, he explained that it was because they wish to ‘share everything’ together.
He continued: ‘We always said we’d never spend more than 2 weeks apart. Sometimes life and work does get crazy.
‘But we met on my first job when she was already a big star, I was a nobody. So we have shared everything, all the ups and downs, and always will.’
The couple had made several public appearances together this year including the Met Gala in May and Wimbledon in London in June.
They were even pictured sharing a kiss on the red carpet at the Venice Film Festival last September.