Bad Education star Hugh Jackman has used his secret life in lockdown to campaign for greater mental health support during the global Covid-19 crisis and beyond.
The Aussie superstar warned a loneliness epidemic "has just gone to another level" as the world self-isolates during the coronavirus scare, urging Australians to do all they can to support those around them.
The mental health ambassador and his best friend Gus Worland have been quietly hosting corporate web seminars to promote messages of connection and conversation through their Gotcha4Life charity.
"I've learned so much from being on the board and we are planning on more of those talks. Gus has been incredible … it's something we really need to pay attention to in the world and Australia, a lot. Now, it's just gone to another level. Our need to look after each other, not just financially and physically, but mentally is a priority. There's a lot of loneliness out there and this only adds to that," he told reporters.
Jackman, his wife Deborra-lee Furness and their two children, Oscar and Ava were in Melbourne on a working holiday in early March, but were forced to retreat to their New York home after just four days as the US government moved to close its borders and curb the outbreak's virulent spread.
"Deb was directing Neighbours and it was spring break for Ava, so we all got on a plane and went down [arriving on March 14]. I had no idea what was going to happen, because we were meant to be down there for three weeks and we had to come back four days later. I was meant to start rehearsals on a show and I have a working visa, so my immigration lawyer said, 'they're about to close the borders, you really need to get back because you're not a citizen.' So we just got on a plane again."
"No one really knew what was going on … it was all a bit of a shock."
Speaking from his Manhattan apartment, Jackman confessed his quarantine time had been mostly spent binge-watching TV – making him the perfect fit for new streaming service, Binge.
"I've been doing stuff with Walshy [Foxtel's director of television, Brian Walsh] since Melissa Hoyer and I co-hosted, In Fashion together, which Deb reminds me about all the time … particularly at the moment, as I'm only living in track pants, 24/7. Who would have thought the host of In Fashion, eh?" he said, laughing.
"I've always loved being part of that Foxtel family and now to see Binge, which I'm really thrilled will focus a lot on Australian production, which I think is fantastic."
He added: "it's just a really exciting extension and another example of how Foxtel keeps evolving."
On his own binge list, Jackman said he's used the guise of doing the ironing to sneak off to watch Mrs America (on Binge, starring Cate Blanchett and Rose Byrne) and The Last Dance (on Foxtel's ESPN).
"And my son just said to me, 'Dad, I really wanna watch The Sopranos. And I said, 'I've never watched an episode, I'm in. We start bingeing that tomorrow."
Meanwhile, Jackman has been regaled by critics for his latest 'career best' performance in new HBO biopic, Bad Education.
Jackman takes the lead in the true story of Frank Tassone, a high school superintendent who ends in prison after he and a number of cohorts embezzled more than $12 million.
After his arrest, those working closest to him, who thought him a widower, discovered his double life as a gay man, including a long-term partner and a secret boyfriend.
"It's a part of human nature that we can convince ourselves that things are okay if they benefit us," Jackman said.
"We justify our actions and I think in that way, while it's entertaining, in the end it leaves you with mini reminder to check under your own cupboard."