The Reason Hugh Jackman Wanted To Play P.T. Barnum In The Greatest Showman

Posted 2017/06/30 2056 0

Hugh Jackman plays Barnum, a charming, down-on-his-luck guy in a top hat, hanging out in Connecticut in the early 1800s.


The story of P T Barnum, the man behind the world-famous circus bearing his name, is being made into a film musical, and Hugh Jackman is playing the role. As an actor, Hugh Jackman has pretty much done it all. He's dabbled in musicals (Les Miserables), action (Swordfish), comedy (Eddie The Eagle), drama (Prisoners, The Prestige), romance (Kate & Leopold, The Fountain), and provided arguably the most iconic superhero performances yet as Wolverine. So it's little surprise then that the Australian actor was so intent on portraying P.T. Barnum. When recalling how he eventually signed up to oversee The Greatest Showman, Michael Gracey explained:

“Hugh has been on since the beginning. Hugh originally called me and said, 'The script's not right. But I love the idea of playing P.T. Barnum, because it is the birth of show business.' And I was like, 'Yeah. OK. That sounds amazing.'”

After taking a look through the script, Gracey told Jackman that in order for him to unleash his full potential as the character of P.T. Barnum, the film needed to be a musical so that it could "really play to [his] strengths." Hugh Jackman was so in favor of Gracey's declaration that he immediately signed him up as The Greatest Showman's director. Gracey recalled:

“So I read the script, and I kept going back to it and saying, 'Look, if you're going to put The Greatest Showman above your head on the poster, then you should really play to your strengths.' And I grew up watching him in Australia doing musicals. So I said, 'It should really be a musical.' And that really naïve remark cost me seven years of my life.”

Inspired by the imagination of P.T. Barnum, The Greatest Showman is an original musical that celebrates the birth of show business and tells of a visionary who rose from nothing to create a spectacle that became a worldwide sensation.

The Greatest Showman is directed by Australian commercial director and visual effects coordinator Michael Gracey, and will be his feature-length debut. The movie stars Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron, Michelle Williams and Rebecca Ferguson. It is scheduled for a Christmas Day 2017 release in the United States.