When Hugh Jackman sees an opportunity to raise a bit of charity, he very graciously exploits the moment for everything it's worth. The 44-year-old actor easily proved his fundraising prowess during his Broadway run earlier this year, single-handedly raising $1.8 million for the charity Broadway Cares.
The ongoing cause closest to his heart, however, is the success of his Laughing Man Worldwide — a company that sells coffee, tea and chocolate and gives away 100 percent of its profits to charity. Jackman, who owns 50 percent of the biz but receives absolutely no money from it, was inspired to start the venture while performing charity work for the organization World Vision in Ethiopia.
"I met a man who changed the way I looked at the world. As Dukale and I planted coffee trees together, I began to see the potential for one man’s hard work to transform an entire community … While working with Dukale that day, I was so inspired by what I learned from him and his community. I made Dukale a promise to do my bit to help. Laughing Man Worldwide is the fulfillment of that promise.”
The first teas and coffees promoted by the company were made with crops from farms in Ethiopia, Peru, Guatemala, Papua New Guinea and beyond. A full 100 percent of the profits benefit charity, something Jackman says he was inspired to pursue by the late Paul Newman.
"I read his book about 10 years ago, "Shameless Exploitation in the Pursuit of the Common Good," he tells CNN
. "It's a great book and that's probably where the idea incubated."
With the film adaptation of the musical "Les Miserables" set to open on Dec. 25 (with Jackman in the titular role of Jean Valjean), the star has been hitting the press junkets — and promoting Laughing Man in the process.
According to USA Today
, Jackman cleverly "installed a barista bar near the hospitality suite where reporters sampled flat whites, an espresso-based variation on a latte popular in Jackman's native Australia and nearby New Zealand, complete with foam heart on top." Any of the reporters that had a one-on-one with Hugh also received their own gift bag of some selections from the Laughing Man collection.
The site says that Jackman also brought his coffee to the set of Darren Aronofsky's "Noah" in Oyster Bay, NJ. Russell Crowe, who plays the biblical character with an environmental twist
, is also Hugh's co-star in "Les Mis."
"There's some organizations that you're buying from that are like a co-op and you can't really guarantee who you are buying from," Jackman said last year. "We really want to encourage people that you can get a really fair price for quality products, wherever it's grown. That's what we're doing.
"Business done well is a win-win all around," he adds. "It doesn't have to tax the environment or quality or the workers or people. There is a way, under the natural law, for this to work for everybody."
Later this month, Jackman will receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
"Fans from around the world have been consistently asking when this star will be dedicated," said producer Ana Martinez of the Dec. 13 event. "We are happy to say that now is the time. Hugh is one of the world's most popular actors and we are excited that he is joining our Walk of Fame family."