Hugh Jackman broke down in tears during a U.S. interview when he recalled his mum abandoning him when he was eight years old.

The X-Men star's father Chris took on single parent duties after his wife Grace Watson fled Australia to return to her native England.

Jackman opened up about her sudden departure in a candid new chat with Tv show 60 Minutes, but struggled to keep his emotions under control as he shared his heartbreak.

In the taped interview, which aired in the U.S. on Sunday night (09Dec12), he says, "I can remember the morning she left, it's weird the things you pick up. I remember her being in a towel around her head and saying goodbye, must have been the way she said goodbye. As I went off to school, when I came back, there was no one there in the house. The next day there was a telegram from England, mum was there. And then that was it. I don't think she thought for a second it would be forever. I think she thought it was, 'I just need to get away, and I'll come back.' Dad used to pray every night that mum would come back."

Jackman went on to praise his dad, and wiped away tears as he explained, "My father is a rock. My father is my rock. It's where I learned everything about loyalty, dependability, being there day in, day out, no matter what. (His advice was) it's always about the family. It's not about work."