Childhood & Early Life
Deborra-lee Furness was born on November 30, 1955, in Perth, Australia. Furness grew up in Melbourne. She attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City, and completed her graduation in 1981 or 1982.
Her mother, Fay Duncan, was a dedicated charity campaigner. She was honoured with the ‘Order of Australia Medal.’
Continue Reading Below
In 1975, she appeared as ‘Junior 1’ in the episode titled ‘The Human Factor’ in the police drama series, ‘Division 4.’
In 1985, she played Linda Fielding in five episodes of the popular television soap opera, ‘Neighbours.’ That year she also featured in a film, ‘Crossover Dreams,’ and television series, ‘The Flying Doctors’ and ‘Glass Babies.’
In 1986, she featured in three Australian films namely ‘Jenny Kissed Me,’ ‘Cool Change’ and ‘The Humpty Dumpty Man.’
She appeared as Kathleen in a single episode of television soap opera, ‘Falcon Crest,’ in 1987. She also appeared in stage productions in New York, prior to her return to Australia to resume acting pursuits. That year she appeared in the Australian comedy film, ‘The Bit Part,’ and also starred as ‘Valma’ in the television film, ‘A Matter of Convenience,’ and featured in another episode of ‘The Flying Doctors.’
She garnered fame playing the starring role of ‘Asta Cadell’ in the 1988 film, ‘Shame.’ Her brilliant performance in the film earned her ‘Best Actor’ awards at the ‘Golden Space Needle’ and the ‘Film Critics Circle of Australia’ in 1988. She also appeared in three films, ‘Evil Angels,’ ‘Two Brothers Running,’ and ‘Celia,’ and a television mini-series, ‘Act of Betrayal.’
The 1990 action film, ‘The Last of the Finest,’ featured her in the role of Linda Daly. In the ensuing years she appeared in several other films, including ‘Voyager’ (1991), ‘Newsies’ (1992) and ‘Angel Baby’ (1995).
Meanwhile in 1993, she essayed the part of Chrissy in the three-episode British-Australian television miniseries, ‘Stark,’ adopted from a bestselling novel of comedian Ben Elton bearing the same title. It was first aired on ‘ABC TV’ in Australia and then on ‘BBC2’ in the UK.
She in one episode, ‘All of Me,’ of the popular Australian television series, ‘G.P.’ in 1994.
She played the recurring character of ‘Dolores Kennedy’ in 17 episodes of the television series, ‘Fire,’ that aired on ‘Seven Network’ for 2 seasons. In 1995, she also featured in the starring role of a prison psychologist, Louisa Correlli, in the television series, ‘Correlli.’ The series, which was broadcast on ‘ABC TV,’ marked one of the initial roles of her future husband, Hugh Jackman.
Her role of ‘Jude’ in the Australian drama film, ‘Jindabyne,’ is one of the notable portrayals of her career. It had its world premiere at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival. Although a box-office bomb, the film received critical acclaim and won several awards, including the ‘Best Actress in a Supporting Role’ award at the 2006 ‘Film Critics Circle of Australia Awards.’
She was part of the main cast of the Australian television drama thriller series, ‘Hyde & Seek,’ playing the role of Claudia Rossini. The series aired on ‘Nine Network’ for 8 episodes from October 3, 2016 to November 21, 2016.
Other notable works of Furness include films like ‘Sleepwalking’ (2008) and ‘Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole’ (voice role, 2010); and television shows like ‘This Is Your Life’ (2010) and ‘Kimchi Chronicles’ (2010).
Furness met Hugh Jackman in 1995, while working on ‘Correlli’ and the two got married on April 11, 1996, at St. John's in Toorak, Victoria. Furness suffered from two miscarriages after which the couple adopted a boy called Oscar Maximillian, born on May 15, 2000, and a girl called Ava Eliot, born on July 10, 2005.
Furness is one of the founders and patrons of ‘National Adoption Awareness Week.’ She works towards helping orphans globally and making international adoptions more streamlined, particularly in her homeland. She has spoken on adoption laws in Australia at the ‘National Press Club of Australia.’
She also patrons ‘International Adoption Families for Queensland’ and the ‘Lighthouse Foundation’ for displaced children.
She is an ambassador of ‘World Vision International.’ She also serves on the ‘advisory committee of the non-profit humanitarian organization called ‘Film Aid International’ that uses films to entertain and educate displaced people across the globe.