Hugh Jackman on Best Decisions, Daily Routines, The 85% Rule, Favorite Exercises, Mind Training, and Much More (#444)

Photo by Ben Watts

“Everyone takes a shower every day, and we don’t complain about it. We do it out of discipline. There will always be an excuse not to meditate.”  — Hugh Jackman 

Hugh Jackman
(@TheHughJackman) is an Academy Award®-nominated, Golden Globe- and Tony Award-winning performer, who has made an impression on audiences of all ages with his multi-hyphenate career persona, as successful onstage in front of live crowds as he is on film.

I’ve wanted to have Hugh on the show for nearly a decade, and—even with my sky-high hopes—he absolutely over-delivered. In our conversation, we dig into lessons learned, routines, favorite books, exercises, intuition, meditation, and much, much more. Hugh was very gracious with his time, and this is one of the longest interviews he has ever done. 

Trust me—Hugh delivers the goods, and we had a blast. Enjoy!

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, Stitcher, Castbox, Google Podcasts, or on your favorite podcast platform. 

Brought to you by ExpressVPN and Magic Spoon. More on both below. 

You can find the transcript of this episode here. Transcripts of all episodes can be found here.

#444: Hugh Jackman on Best Decisions, Daily Routines, The 85% Rule, Favorite Exercises, Mind Training, and Much More
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What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

SCROLL BELOW FOR LINKS AND SHOW NOTES…

Want to hear the podcast episode that turned Hugh on to a cornucopia of new books for his daily morning reading routine? Check out “Books I’ve Loved” with Seth Godin and Esther Perel

#402: Books I've Loved — Seth Godin and Esther Perel
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SELECTED LINKS FROM THE EPISODE

  • Connect with Hugh Jackman:

Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

SHOW NOTES

  • Hugh and his wife have a tradition of reading books — sometimes to each other — every morning. From whom did this idea originate? [07:25]
  • What books has Hugh gifted most? [11:44]
  • What does Hugh’s regular meditation practice look like, and what benefits does he enjoy from it? [15:22]
  • How does Hugh summon and maintain the emotional and physical energy necessary for performing — particularly when he has to give his all multiple times per week on stage in front of a live audience? [19:42]
  • As someone who’s performed across countless stage and screen productions, why was Hugh nervous about coming on this podcast? [27:34]
  • What lessons did Hugh’s father teach him about being an example to others by way of action, making decisions, and always keeping his word? [29:41]
  • To what does Hugh owe his eloquent (or, as his wife might say, “too verbose”) communication skills? [39:16]
  • Hugh’s relationship with journalism, journalists, and a newfound love for the work of Ken Burns. [44:13]
  • Hugh talks about the contract he made with himself at the end of drama school about pursuing acting — and being wary of the word “career” in relation to that pursuit. [46:28]
  • Some of the best decisions Hugh made in the first years of being an aspiring/working actor. [51:26]
  • Why does Hugh think he was extended the kindness of auditioning for Sir Trevor Nunn — one of his idols — even though he had no intention of accepting a part in the musical he was directing? [57:02]
  • How has Hugh learned to trust his intuition — even when it leads him in unexpected directions? [58:52]
  • Can Hugh recall any times when the purpose of a nudge from intuition wasn’t easily fathomed — when the dots didn’t connect in an obvious way, but paid off in a big way when it was heeded? [1:06:29]
  • Am I talking to Hugh Jackman, or Perfect Tommy? [1:10:57]
  • Hugh elaborates on one of his daily morning practices — the design of the day — pondering the efficacy of manifestation and how it played into a major career decision. [1:12:16]
  • Hugh puts discipline in perspective, talks about the importance of incorporating relaxation into physical activity (or possibly any activity) for best results, the types of exercises he’s found to be most effective, and a Viktor Frankl quotation that he finds especially inspiring. [1:18:33]
  • Hugh is a connoisseur of puzzles and games. So what does he recommend for someone who needs to unwind from taking themselves and their work too seriously? Furthermore, what is it about puzzles that keeps him occupied all night if he doesn’t remember to set an alarm for himself? [1:27:46]
  • Parting thoughts. [1:33:51]

PEOPLE MENTIONED

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 500 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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65 Replies to “Hugh Jackman on Best Decisions, Daily Routines, The 85% Rule, Favorite Exercises, Mind Training, and Much More (#444)”

    1. Have acquired The Overstory, plus a couple copies to share. Dialogue that gifted endlessly. Thanks!
      [Moderator: link removed.]

  1. What an amazing man, Hugh Jackman you are my inspiration. Wow, your ethics and state of mind is mind-blowing, thank you for your authenticity! Loved this!

  2. No disrespect to the greats like Stan Groff, but this is hands down the coolest guest Tim has had on in the history of the podcast.

  3. Sorry, nothing to do with the podcast episode – just you said this was the best way to get your attention. Also sorry that is likely inaccurate (plus kinda high on edibles)

    I’m reading tools of titans (also just saw that this book is not new like I thought it was), so maybe this feedback is just gonna be super LOL

    You’re someone I’ve respected since I’ve been a teenager and the older I get, the more I’ve gotten from your stuff because it aligns with my beliefs, code of ethics and personal experience. You are part of a select few who I aim to become in several aspects, and your opinion on anything holds a lot of weight with me. I don’t tend to have many consistent mentors long term, so I find this impressive

    I feel like I’ve witness you evolve emotionally over the last 10 or so years (and/or… my EQ grew enough to be able to hear what you’re saying). Specifically the way you talk about your mental health more candidly. I feel like I notice the benefits you’ve had by listening to your revelations evolve over the years via the podcast

    AND

    My favorite part of the book was your intro and the how to read this book part. I know you’ve written other books and whatever and now you’re all about interviewing amazing people – but I wish you would write a book about being your best mentally (like you already covered wealth and health in your other books) with your own insights. I just feel like you’re too humble about your expertise and almost sense that you like, don’t have the confidence to write about mental health as an expert, but you actually have no idea how much the world needs it. I know you sprinkle it into your podcasts and are passionate on the subject but it still feels like you hesitate to initiate your wisdom in this way

    Also if something like this already exists and I’ve missed the mark completely just shoot me now. I’ll just send you another message someday since you won’t remember this one looool

    Love ya Tim

    Raya

    1. I’d love to see a Tim Ferriss book on Mental Health too. But as we hold our breath for that one, I highly recommend Johan Hari’s Lost Connections 👍🏼

      1. Hey thanks for this, I will check it out! I felt some validation to my thoughts with his more recent episode he just put out about his childhood abuse – I knew he knew his shit!! Proud of him for sharing with the world. For me the thing that was missing has now been revealed and I bet he will reach new heights of success and the closure that he needed.

        Go Tim!

  4. I always knew Hugh was “special.” I have always admired his integrity and have never seen or heard anything negative about him. I love his love/loyalty for his wife and family. As a mature woman it’s so refreshing to see a lasting hollywood marriage. My daughter and I visited his “Laughing Man Coffee” on a NYC ttrip last year. We both tried two different flavors and both were unique and ever so delicious! I love the arts and secure men who dance, sing, act and follow their passion without a care as to others questioning their masculinity. Hugh personifies that to a T. Thank you Hugh for the tips on relaxing behind deep breaths for long held notes. I sing and struggle with tension in my frame. I will take that and work on it! I wish there were more Hugh’s in the world. So many women who gear towards the arts but so few men who will sing and dance with them happily; who are not gay. Also the desire to dig deep and work on intimacy, communication, quality time and tools to connect is something I definitely want to hear a man condone!!!!! Thank you for this interview; simply lovely on all levels!

  5. This is now the best episode of any show I’ve heard.
    This one is special, he is an exceptional human. I never listened and thought I’d want to live like any of your guests, until now. This is a way to live.
    “the direction I’m meant to go will become clear to me, 100% in my gut”
    Thanks Hugh and Tim

  6. I think the discussion on intuition was absolutely incredible.

    In particular, I loved that Hugh’s coach reminding him to “surrender” to moment more. And, how rigorously Hugh attends to his routines when he’s performing.

    I think all of us struggle to “get out of our heads and into our lives.” This episode provided such great insights into the practices that makes that possible.

    I’m not sure if other podcast guests have discussed this idea of “trusting your intuition,” but it’s a wonderful question and I hope it comes up with future guests.

    Thanks for creating one of my favorite episodes, Tim.
    Wonderful work!
    Charles

  7. Hey Hugh, great stuff thus far… I’ve got to leave this note before I’ve got to run out and finish the rest of this chat… on the kid from The Greatest Showman, see: Free Will and Sam Harris; we have none.

  8. One of a very small handful of “celebrities” that seems to have remained grounded in living a good life in part by noticing, learning from, crediting, and helping others, So many good things to followup on from this interview! Thanks to you both.

  9. This episode truly is something special, I’m getting teary just thinking about it and I’m listening to it for the second time since yesterday! I love this episode! Plus, I now have my Christmas gift list sorted!

  10. Hugh Jackman! Your wife is my inspiration!!!
    Ok …. interview pretty fab too. You provided so
    much to draw upon going forward. I am a NYC multi
    media artist who needs Lauren Zander. :)) Right away!

    Merci bien!!

  11. i took a long break from listening to Ferriss show, but i couldnt miss this one. and am so glad that i did and so grateful to Tim and Hugh for this amazing conversation. We fortunate we have a chance to listen great amazing intelligent people talk…

  12. Help me understand how you hope to “restore” the wolf population in Colorado when there are already wolves here naturally? All for wolves in my home state, just wondering why CO Parks and Wildlife nor any of the other folks pushing the forced reintroduction have not spoken out about the facts. Come on Tim, be an example, lead the way!

  13. Tim thank you so much for sharing the Hugh Jackman podcast with us. It was fantastic and well worth the time spent I commit to listening to more of your great work.

  14. One of the most inspiring podcasts I’ve ever listened to. I had no idea how much Hugh would speak to my soul. A true hero and inspiration in a time the world needs it.

    Also can’t wait to try magic spoon – as always I would probably pay to listen to your recommendations

  15. Thanks Tim and Hugh!

    The link in the resources for the 85% rule doesn’t exactly relate to what Hugh shared. Has anyone been able find a reference to who “the guy” is who observed it in Carl Lewis?

    1. I’m looking for the same thing – there seem to be blogging and quoting the podcast as a new ‘truth’ but I’d like to know the source rather it be an anecdote about an anecdote. I’ve not been able to find anything so far

  16. Incredible episode. Hugh was always a favourite of mine and a lot resonated. Reminds me a lot about the Terry Crews interview. Both authentic guys with diverse backgrounds and inspiration. Thanks Tim!

  17. I loved this interview! There were several goosebump moments for me. This episode left me in awe of Hugh Jackman. His thoughtfulness, enthusiasm, interest for life, respect for others, views on family and work, and such character strength… all beautiful. I was very touched by his honesty and vulnerability. Thank you for the authenticity and for sharing!

  18. I, too, find puzzles deeply satisfying! Each piece you find gives your brain a tiny hit of serotonin that keeps you going for the next one. Assembling a puzzle feels simultaneously useless and purposeful. So many great tidbits in this episode. Thank you for sharing with us.

  19. This had so many great nuggets. One of my favs was from Hugh’s father “Your religion should be in your actions.” Love listening to your podcasts, thank you for brightening the day!

  20. Tim, loved this one. Great conversation. The part about trusting the gut feeling is my most favourite. I can so relate to it.
    Just one thing I would have liked to listen to more is Hugh’s love about the game of cricket. Wish you would have discussed that too with this Aussie.
    Thanks.

  21. I have listened to only one podcast the whole way through before this one. But this kept my attention and interest throughout. Hugh seems like the neighbor you’d like to have next door – down to earth. Good on you, Hugh. Great questions, Tim! I will be looking forward to listening to more like this one!

  22. What a delight! I’ve listened to 300+ of your 444 available episodes, this easily places in the top 5. Phenomenal interview, I loved the road travelled throughout your, as you say “wide ranging conversation”.

  23. Mr Ferriss you are at your best bringing out the best in others. The podcast has been insight invaluable through all of this pandemonium and jumping in a brisk lake for a solid swim first thing every morning takes care of the body for the most part. Many thanks indeed and hope all buoyant

  24. I didn’t think the Michael Lewis episode could be topped but this did it. This is my favorite episode of any podcast I’ve ever heard. So many beautiful moments but my favorite tip – which I’m already benefiting from – is the Day Design.
    Thank you very much.

  25. Tim, this interview is one of my favorites. Listening to your exchange made my road trip fly by! I have a new appreciation for being clear with my kids about our values. I’m still in awe that Hugh’s dad let him make the decision, when all along he knew what he wanted for his son by heading off to acting school. Absolutely amazing!

  26. Great show. 2 of my favourite people. Please also look into getting Chamath Palihapitiya onto your show. #suggestion

  27. Hi Tim,
    This is a thank you note.

    I’ve listened to your Podcasts and read most of your books on a regular basis, but during this episode I had a big breakthrough.

    The breakthrough came from the questions you made more than the answers you got from Hugh (even though he is fantastic!).

    Thank you for caring about asking the right questions instead of giving answers.

  28. Very thankful for this episode! It must be cool to be looked up to by THE Hugh Jackman!

    Unrelated request: invite Kevin Parker (Tame Impala) on the show! Yes, Hugh’s wonderful accent made me think of this…

  29. Hi, I’m John Barreto from Brazil.
    First I would like to say that I am a big fan of you and your podcast. But I have to tell you, many Brazilians do not speak, nor understand enough English to follow their podcasts.

    I work with a group called The King Subtitles and we do subtitles for youtube and other platforms. I believe that you have a very large market still to be explored here in Brazil and elsewhere.

    If you want to know a little of what we do, just reply to this email and I send you all the explanatory material and how much we charge for this service.

    I hope your return!

  30. Amazing – I have adored the man since he started in the movies in the Australian Paperback Hero and everything since. In a cynical world the man who speaks so highly of his wife and talks so wonderfully about his family is my absolute hero. Thank you Tim for creating this wonderous piece of journalism with an incredible genuine icon. I absolutely loved it. I was so entranced I will have to listen again to hear all the great ideas. Hugh you are an absolute diamond in a world that contains a lot of coal dust. Lots of love:-)

  31. Wow. Did not disappoint. I’m a Hugh groupie so loved it. One of my favorite benefits from listening to you is reading recommendations. Picked up The Overstory that Hugh loves. I Audible and can’t stop listening! Love that you ask your guests the “what book have you gifted the most?”. Keep up the good work. I’m a 59 year old CPA/CFO grandma that loves everything you do!

  32. Hey Tim,

    Great episode, but I wanted to point out incredibly distracting aspect. You can hear your mouse clicking throughout the beginning of the podcast while Hugh is talking, and it’s incredibly distracting and has a rude connotation. I’m not trying to put you on blast (and please feel free to delete this after you read it), but i just wanted to make you aware. While you may be able to split your attention, it’s extremely difficult for me as a listener to hear it.

    These podcasts are life changing and I know you value honest feedback. Keep up the great work!

  33. I have a question about coaching, which Hugh talks a lot about and which he finds really beneficial. It seems there is a market failure though, for non-famous/rich people. Assuming coaching is of some benefit, how should we a. discover a good/compatible coach and b. figure out reasonable metrics for whether the experience is worthwhile from a time/money perspective? Is there a market to be made for coaching services?

  34. Thank you for this, after Hugh’s comment about a business I was wondering if you have ever thought of interviewing Julia Roberts.

  35. Excellent episode! My middle son is a 15-year-old combo version of Tim and Hugh. He is self-motivated, driven, an athlete, a musician, ridiculously smart, and he meditates daily. (Coaches that are pushing him to give it his all, are the worst kind of coaches he can have because he already drives himself to give his all and then injures himself trying to do more.) However, these things can tip over into obsessiveness, perfectionism, and loads of self-inflicted anxiety.
    What would you say to the younger version of you to help with the anxiety (and the sometimes sense of failure even while accomplishing more than most) that can come with this type of personality?

  36. There was so much to take away from this!! “Before I do an activity I imagine that it’s done, that feeling I have when it’s done and gone well, I go into it with that…”

    The stuff he does to constantly work on his marriage and his relationships, the lessons he’s learned from his father who didn’t SPEAK them but he LIVED them was incredible. So many things I’m pretty much flabbergasted at how incredible he is. I’ve seen him LIVE on tour and I was amazed by him and now even more so. He works HARD to live the way he lives and that is another huge takeway, you NEVER ARRIVE you are always constantly in need of improving who you are. REGARDLESS of how “SUCCESSFUL” you appear to be. THANK YOU for this!

  37. This is how a podcast interview should be, an amazing guest interviewed by an intelligent host who knows how to conduct an interview smoothly, enjoyed it immensely, thank you.

  38. This is one of my favorite episodes, thank you!

    I wasn’t sure where to send suggestions/topic ideas so here goes: I just learned of a topic called Calibration which I think you’d find interesting. You can train your sense of confidence in forecasting and decision making so that something you are 30% confident in is true 30% of the time, what you’re 70% confident in will be true 70% of the time, etc. Have you tried any training similar to this? It sounds like a great way to build decision-making skills as well as gain an accurate sense of one’s own abilities and biases.

    I just learned of it from Open Philanthropy, you can find more here: [Moderator: link to openphilanthropy (dot) org article on Calibration Training removed.]

  39. SENSATIONAL EPISODE! Terrific life wisdom, vulnerability, and tools for manifestation being shared here. Thank you both Tim and Hugh for creating the space for a magical dialogue like this happen. Gratitude and continued success to you both!

  40. I credit this episode with giving my husband and I the foundational tools to begin to save our marriage. We were in a horrific spot, truly the darkest time in our 23 years together. We were not sure if or how we could go on. Hugh’s rituals with Deb were our inspiration to begin to establish some common ground.

    We began meditating together and listening to a book or a podcast together while going for a walk (rather than read to each other). We even listened to the Overstory together thanks to your recommendation. That hit some raw spots. It was an amazing experience.

    When these things went well, we sought further help. While we are forever growing and learning how to do it better, THIS is a great start.

    We’ve been fans since 4-hr work week. Now, I don’t even know what one could call us, other than incredibly grateful evangelists.