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Hugh Sheridan is comforted by Jessica Marais as he leaves hospital following treatment for anxiety

Actor Hugh Sheridan was flanked by friends as he left the Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs on Friday, following his admission earlier this week. 

The 35-year-old was understood to have been undergoing mental health treatment following controversy surrounding his casting as a transgender character in the upcoming Sydney production of the play, Hedwig and the Angry Inch. 

The play was pulled from the 2021 Sydney Festival after an LGBTQIA+ group Queer Artist Alliance Australia wrote an open letter slamming producers for casting Hugh to play a trans character. 

On Friday, Hugh left the hospital holding the hand of his close friend Jessica Marais, 35, who had played his sister on the hit TV series Packed to the Rafters. 

Hospital trip: Hugh Sheridan left the Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney on Friday, following his admission earlier this week. Pictured with Jessica Marais

Hospital trip: Hugh Sheridan left the Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney on Friday, following his admission earlier this week. Pictured with Jessica Marais

Leading role: Hugh, best known for his role on Packed to the Rafters, was cast in the transgender role of Hedwig (pictured)

Leading role: Hugh, best known for his role on Packed to the Rafters, was cast in the transgender role of Hedwig (pictured)

The House Husbands star was left ‘heartbroken’ after he was inundated with messages from trolls on social media over his casting in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, a close friend of the actor told Daily Mail Australia on Friday.  

The source revealed that Hugh now hopes to raise awareness about the effects of online bullying – and encourage others to seek mental health treatment when they need it. 

The friend said: ‘All this did was break his heart. There comes a point where enough is enough and you need to ask for help. There is only so much you can take before you ask for help, so he asked for help’. 

They went on to warn that when public figures become the targets of social media bullies, it can have a tragic outcome.   

‘Go back to Charlotte Dawson who killed herself over online bullying. We need to live in a more compassionate society,’ the friend added, referring to the Australia’s Next Top Model star’s death by suicide in 2014, following a slew of online attacks. 

Support: It is understood Hugh was undergoing mental health treatment following the controversy surrounding his casting as a transgender character in the upcoming Sydney production of the play, Hedwig and the Angry Inch

Support: It is understood Hugh was undergoing mental health treatment following the controversy surrounding his casting as a transgender character in the upcoming Sydney production of the play, Hedwig and the Angry Inch 

Ties: Hugh was holding the hand of his close friend Jessica Marais, who had played his sister on TV series Packed to the Rafters

Ties: Hugh was holding the hand of his close friend Jessica Marais, who had played his sister on TV series Packed to the Rafters

‘Words have impact, words have power. How do we move forwards with bullying online? You can say anything behind a screen. What was said to him broke his heart. 

‘He hopes to change the narrative of what happens when you are bullied online. And the ramifications that has on on mental health’.    

Hugh is home safe, ‘surrounded by love and support’ and in the process of ‘rebuilding’ the source confirmed.  

‘He’s dealing with it, he’s going through the motions of being completely defeated. He had waited his whole life for a role like this. It’s the role of a lifetime. To have so many people be against him is heartbreaking’.   

Heartbreak: The actor was left 'heartbroken' after he was inundated with messages from trolls on social media over his casting in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, a close friend of the actor told Daily Mail Australia on Friday

Heartbreak: The actor was left ‘heartbroken’ after he was inundated with messages from trolls on social media over his casting in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, a close friend of the actor told Daily Mail Australia on Friday

The source added that the seasoned stage performer is devastated at the possibility of losing the role, through which he’d hoped to help others who are struggling with their sexual identity.   

The actor, who last month publicly addressed his sexuality for the first time, revealing in a Stellar Magazine essay that he is attracted to both men and women, wanted to ‘explore his own sexuality’ through his starring role in the musical. 

‘The community he came out to is trashing him. He wanted to explore his sexuality through the role. He wanted to help someone else who is struggling. 

‘He’s a staunch supporter of the LGBTQI community. He doesn’t want to hurt the trans community. He loves that community. And for the community to come out and attack him is heartbreaking,’ the friend said. 

Care: The source revealed that Hugh now hopes to raise awareness about the effects of online bullying - and encourage others to seek mental health treatment when they need it

Care: The source revealed that Hugh now hopes to raise awareness about the effects of online bullying – and encourage others to seek mental health treatment when they need it

The source went on to point out that the role itself has routinely been played by cis gendered men in the past, including American actor Neil Patrick Harris, who won a Tony Award for his portrayal of Hedwig in 2014. 

Halting of the production, which was set to open an Newtown’s Enmore Theatre in January, could leave dozens out of work in a performing arts industry already devastated by COVID.   

The source added: ‘He’s speaking to his trans friends, because if this is hurting anyone he doesn’t want to do it. But he’s so broken by so many people coming to him – he didn’t understand it. 

‘Yes, you sign up for it as an actor, but he’s also a human. He’s an empathetic, vulnerable, sensitive person and his heart is broken’.   

The friend said: 'All this did was break his heart. There comes a point where enough is enough and you need to ask for help. There is only so much you can take before you ask for help, so he asked for help'

The friend said: ‘All this did was break his heart. There comes a point where enough is enough and you need to ask for help. There is only so much you can take before you ask for help, so he asked for help’ 

The source added:  'Words have impact, words have power. How do we move forwards with bullying online? You can say anything behind a screen. What was said to him broke his heart'

The source added:  ‘Words have impact, words have power. How do we move forwards with bullying online? You can say anything behind a screen. What was said to him broke his heart’

Daily Mail Australia has reached out to Hugh Sheridan for additional comment.  

Leaving hospital on Friday, Hugh appeared to have a bandaged hand, and was wearing a hospital bracelet on his wrist.

As well as Jessica, another friend walked nearby to the pair, carrying a paper bag and accompanying Hugh as he made his way to a car.  

Jessica appeared to be keeping her friend’s spirits up, smiling as the pair walked along side by side. 

Safety net: Hugh is home safe, 'surrounded by love and support' and in the process of 'rebuilding' the source confirmed

Safety net: Hugh is home safe, ‘surrounded by love and support’ and in the process of ‘rebuilding’ the source confirmed

Strong: 'He's dealing with it, he's going through the motions of being completely defeated. He had waited his whole life for a role like this. It's the role of a lifetime. To have so many people be against him is heartbreaking' the source said

Strong: ‘He’s dealing with it, he’s going through the motions of being completely defeated. He had waited his whole life for a role like this. It’s the role of a lifetime. To have so many people be against him is heartbreaking’ the source said 

They also stopped to chat briefly, before a taxi arrived, with all three climbing into the cab and leaving the area. 

The hospital visit comes after the Sydney play halted production after activists criticised the casting of Hugh for not being transgender. 

Producers of Hedwig and the Angry Inch have cancelled the play’s 2021 Sydney Festival season after an open letter was published slamming the casting.

The Australian actor, best known for his role on Packed to the Rafters, was cast in the lead role of transgender character, Hedwig. 

Homeward: Leaving hospital on Friday, Hugh appeared to have a bandaged hand, and was wearing a hospital bracelet on his wrist

Homeward: Leaving hospital on Friday, Hugh appeared to have a bandaged hand, and was wearing a hospital bracelet on his wrist

Close: Jessica played Hugh's sister on the hit show Packed to the Rafters

Close: Jessica played Hugh’s sister on the hit show Packed to the Rafters 

Pause: Jessica stopped to talk to Hugh in the street as they waited for a taxi

Pause: Jessica stopped to talk to Hugh in the street as they waited for a taxi  

The Queer Artist Alliance Australia took to social media complaining that the Real Dirty Dancing star wasn’t transgender like his character, Hedwig Robinson. 

It is not however suggested that the alliance has engaged in any trolling.  

‘We would like to express our profound sadness and disappointment that trans performers are still fighting for equal opportunities and representation,’ the open letter read. 

‘The choice to cast a cisgender male as a transgender character is offensive and damaging to the trans community, and continues to cause genuine stress and frustration amongst trans- and gender- nonconforming performers all across Australia.’

Pals: Another friend was nearby carrying a paper bag, accompanying Hugh and Jessica as they made their way to a car

Pals: Another friend was nearby carrying a paper bag, accompanying Hugh and Jessica as they made their way to a car

Ray of light: Jessica appeared to be keeping her friend's spirits up, smiling and laying a gentle hand of support on his back

Ray of light: Jessica appeared to be keeping her friend’s spirits up, smiling and laying a gentle hand of support on his back 

History: The source went on to point out that the role itself has routinely been played by cisgendered men in the past, including American actor Neil Patrick Harris, who won a Tony Award for his portrayal of Hedwig in 2014

History: The source went on to point out that the role itself has routinely been played by cisgendered men in the past, including American actor Neil Patrick Harris, who won a Tony Award for his portrayal of Hedwig in 2014

Work: Additionally, the halting of the production, which was set to open an Newtown's Enmore Theatre in Sydney in January, could leave dozens out of work in a performing arts industry already devastated by COVID

Work: Additionally, the halting of the production, which was set to open an Newtown’s Enmore Theatre in Sydney in January, could leave dozens out of work in a performing arts industry already devastated by COVID

The source added: 'He's speaking to his trans friends, because if this is hurting anyone he doesn't want to do it. But he's so broken by so many people coming to him - he didn't understand it'

The source added: ‘He’s speaking to his trans friends, because if this is hurting anyone he doesn’t want to do it. But he’s so broken by so many people coming to him – he didn’t understand it’ 

Hurtful: 'Yes, you sign up for it as an actor, but he's also a human. He's an empathetic, vulnerable, sensitive person and his heart is broken' the friend added

Hurtful: ‘Yes, you sign up for it as an actor, but he’s also a human. He’s an empathetic, vulnerable, sensitive person and his heart is broken’ the friend added

The alliance agreed that Hugh was a talented and deserving actor but said it was not appropriate for him to ‘be the gatekeeper of a trans story’.

‘While we understand the box office appeal in having a famous and commercially successful actor such as Hugh Sheridan headlining the show, our problem is that marginalised groups have been excluded from participating in a significant opportunity to tell our story because we are not as ‘well-known’ or may not ‘sell enough tickets,’ the alliance said. 

Radio personality Ben Fordham called out the open letter, claiming political correctness was having a ‘damaging effect’ in Australia.

‘Some people can’t see this because they are captured by political correctness,’ Fordham said on 2GB on Tuesday morning.

‘This is disgraceful discrimination!’ 

The play’s plot heavily focuses on gender identity, tracing the journey of young East Berlin man, Hedwig, who has a botched sex change in order to flee Germany in the 1990s. 

Last month Hugh opened up in The Sunday Telegraph magazine, Stellar, about his relationship with both men and women.

When the play’s casting was announced, Hugh said he was confident about moving into the role.

No more: Producers of Hedwig and the Angry Inch have cancelled the play's 2021 Sydney Festival season after an open letter was published about casting Hugh (pictured)

No more: Producers of Hedwig and the Angry Inch have cancelled the play’s 2021 Sydney Festival season after an open letter was published about casting Hugh (pictured)

‘Hedwig is so open and so raw, I wouldn’t have felt that I was doing the best job that I could if I hadn’t been open and raw myself,’ he said on November 10.

‘I want to go into it being as open and raw and naked on the stage as I can be, metaphorically speaking.’ 

Hugh said being involved in the production was about accepting the depths of being human, but knew there would be challenges in the role.

‘Hedwig’s a tough role for anyone, no matter what their label is or their sexuality or gender,’ he said.

Open letter: The Queer Artist Alliance Australia took to social media complaining that Sheridan wasn't transgender like his character, Hedwig Robinson

Open letter: The Queer Artist Alliance Australia took to social media complaining that Sheridan wasn’t transgender like his character, Hedwig Robinson

‘It requires you to draw on a level of honesty that is very uncomfortable for a lot of people, and has been for me for a long time.’ 

Hedwig’s production staff released a statement in response to the open letter, saying they were taking the casting issue ‘very seriously’.       

‘In casting Hedwig we auditioned a wide, diverse range of performers and no one from any background was excluded from this process, and were encouraged,’ the statement said.

‘We wish to assure the Trans and LGBTQIA+ community that the issues raised are respected and taken very seriously.’

The Sydney Festival said ticket holders affected by the postponement will be refunded.

Speaking out: Last month Hugh opened up in The Sunday Telegraph magazine, Stellar, about his relationships with both men and women

Speaking out: Last month Hugh opened up in The Sunday Telegraph magazine, Stellar, about his relationships with both men and women

‘The values of equality and inclusivity have long guided the work of Sydney Festival,’ organisers said in a statement.

‘With these values in mind, the Festival supports the producer’s decision to postpone the January season of the play as they respond to issues raised around casting in the production.’  

Hugh has received support from his good friend Rebel Wilson, who publicly defended his casting in the role on Friday. 

In his corner:  Hugh has received support from his good friend Rebel Wilson (pictured), who publicly defended his casting in the role on Friday

In his corner:  Hugh has received support from his good friend Rebel Wilson (pictured), who publicly defended his casting in the role on Friday

The 40-year-old blasted the decision to postpone the 2021 play Hedwig and the Angry Inch in a furious Instagram post, where she praised Hugh’s acting skills and branded him as ‘perfect’ for the role of the transgender lead. 

‘As someone who has met the extraordinary and talented John Cameron Mitchell, seen Neil Patrick Harris play the role brilliantly on Broadway and knows how amazing Hugh Sheridan is as a performer…’ she wrote on Instagram. 

‘…Any producers would be crazy NOT to put on Hedwig in Australia with Hugh in it! He’s literally perfect for the role.’ 

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'Literally perfect': The 40-year-old blasted the decision to cancel the 2021 play Hedwig and the Angry Inch on Instagram on Thursday, where she also praised Hugh's acting skills and branded him as 'perfect' for the role

‘Literally perfect’: The 40-year-old blasted the decision to cancel the 2021 play Hedwig and the Angry Inch on Instagram on Thursday, where she also praised Hugh’s acting skills and branded him as ‘perfect’ for the role

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