Hugh Jackman on Hosting Oscars: 'A Night of Celebration'

Actor and first-time Academy Awards host sits down with Barbara Walters.

ByABC News
February 16, 2009, 12:38 PM

Feb. 20, 2009— -- Actor Hugh Jackman, who will be hosting the Academy Awards for the first time on Sunday, says that he's "excited" about the honor, not nervous.

"My acting teacher always said, 'No, don't say nervous, you're excited,'" Jackman told Barbara Walters in an interview to air on her annual Oscar night special. "And actually, that's the truth."

The 40-year-old actor, who was named People magazine's "Sexiest Man Alive" last year, will next be seen onscreen in "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" this summer. He says that while he likes singing and dancing, his favorite thing to do is act, and he told Walters that he sees all the Oscar-nominated movies each year.

"I love the Oscars. I've loved it since I was a kid," he said.

Hosting the ceremony is "a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, literally it may be once," he said, laughing.

Asked if there were any stars he's looking forward to seeing on Oscar night, Jackman said he pictures Jack Nicholson sitting in the front row.

"I don't know if he's going to be there, [but] I visualize Jack Nicholson ... hopefully smiling, but you never know," he said, laughing.

He also said he's never met best actor nominee Brad Pitt.

"I'm pretty sure I'll be getting to meet [Pitt]," he said. "I've never met Angelina, either. But I'm not allowed to say that or my wife will kill me, but I'd love to meet her."

Jackman met his wife, actress Deborah-Lee Furness, on the set of the Australian drama "Corelli." At the time, she was a big star Down Under and he was an unknown, but he says his increasing fame hasn't hurt their relationship.

"I want to make it really clear, there is not an ounce of jealousy," he said. "There is not an ounce of competitiveness between us. Deb has only ever had incredibly supportive, excited, sort of, feelings, for anything that's happened in my career."

He called their marriage "a mad love affair."

"I'm madly in love with her ... more and more each day," he said.

Hugh Jackman: 'Obsessed With the Oscars'

Jackman and Furness have been married for 12 years and are the parents of two adopted children. Jackman said the decision to adopt mixed race children was "deliberate" and a "no-brainer."

"When we went first to talk to someone in Los Angeles about adoption, I remember, they said, 'What do you want?' I said, 'Well, healthy would be good,'" he recalled. "And they said, 'Well, what about the race?' We'd ticked mixed race. And he said, 'Now, listen. Please don't, please don't just tick that because you think it's the right thing to tick.' And he said to me, that we turn away children every month who are mixed race, because we can't find families for them."

The family splits their time between Los Angeles and Australia, and Jackman said there will be Oscar parties held all across his home country of Australia, and not just because he's hosting.

"We're just as obsessed with the Oscars and movies as you are here," he said. "It's a truly international phenomenon."

The Academy Awards have recently been hosted by comedians such as Jon Stewart, Ellen Degeneres and Chris Rock.

Jackman wouldn't say what he has planned for Sunday's broadcast, but when asked if he planned to sing, he said "Yeah...I mean, look, I could mince my way around it and say, 'Oh, maybe,' [but] I'm sure there will be something."

"I do think the night is about celebration."