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Stars & the City: Hugh Jackman of 'The Greatest Showman’

Category Stars and the City

|by Jeryl Brunner |


Hugh Jackman takes us behind the scenes of his new movie musical – and shares why his family loves New York City

Hugh Jackman plays P.T. Barnum in the new movie musical The Greatest Showman. The dream cast also includes Zac Efron, Michelle Williams, Keala Settle, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson and Paul Sparks. The Greatest Showman is directed by Michael Gracey and contains songs from Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (Dear Evan Hansen, La La Land).  Nominated for three Golden Globe awards, including one for Hugh Jackman, the movie tells the story of the intrepid Barnum. The great showman who had little means defied the odds and ultimately created the Barnum & Bailey Circus. The luxury cruise line Cunard and 20th Century Fox Film recently partnered to host the movie’s world premiere on the Queen Mary 2, while the ship was docked in New York. 

Hugh Jackman and Zac Ephron toast the world premiere of 'The Greatest Showman' with Moët & Chandon   (Photo: Benjamin Lozovsky for BFA Images)

Hugh Jackman and Zac Ephron toast the world premiere of 'The Greatest Showman' with Moët & Chandon (Photo: Benjamin Lozovsky for BFA Images)

What qualities do you love about P.T. Barnum? 
Hugh Jackman:
I think of him as a disruptor. He saw the world in a different way from anyone else. I love his imagination. I love his sense of fun and playfulness, his dedication to making other people happy. And I love his grit. I mean, he's a flawed character, but if his back is against the wall, he will fight, and I love that.

You have mentioned that it took seven and a half years to get The Greatest Showman made. The film is like that Little Engine that Could. What kept you going? 
Hugh Jackman:
I know. The honest truth is Michael Gracey, our director. We were into this. Jenny [Bicks] wrote the script. I gave it to Michael. From that point on, he was the Barnum of this. He never stopped believing and he just pushed and pushed and pushed and pushed, and that's why we're here.

If you could join the circus what would be your special skill? 
Hugh Jackman:
The tightrope. I'd be on the tightrope. There is something about the tightrope. I used to be terrified of heights and now, since I was about 16, I no longer am. Now I love it. When you're up there, there's a peacefulness about it. 

What does your family love to do in New York? 
Hugh Jackman:
My son’s idea of a great day in New York is to hike. He will wake up, not have any breakfast and go to Central Park. And then he comes back when it’s dark, literally. He loads up his backpack and treats Central Park as a forest.

We love that you do movies, but do you see yourself doing Broadway again?
Hugh Jackman:
Absolutely, a hundred percent. I really want to do a new musical. Maybe The Greatest Showman could become a Broadway musical? I totally can see this working. Totally.

Do you remember the first time you performed on stage?
Hugh Jackman:
When I was five or six and I played the King in Camelot. And what I remember most is the crown being too big and falling over my face. The stage is where I began to learn my craft. It’s where I fell in love with acting. The very first thing I saw was Man of La Mancha. It was at high school. I was probably eight at the time. Hugo Weaving, who is a very famous Australian actor, was the star. He went to the same high school as me and I couldn’t believe it. I still remember the show very vividly.

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