*Disclosure: Accommodations were provided by 20th Century Fox. All thoughts are my own and have not been influenced.*
The Greatest Showman in theaters December 20, 2017
Last week I had the honor of attending a screening of The Greatest Showman with my family and taking part of an interview with the cast. You’ll have to wait for my review, but I promise you won’t want to miss it!
About The Greatest Showman:
“The Greatest Showman” is a bold and original musical that celebrates the birth of show business and the sense of wonder we feel when dreams come to life. Inspired by the ambition and imagination of P.T. Barnum, “The Greatest Showman” tells the story of a visionary who rose from nothing to create a mesmerizing spectacle that became a worldwide sensation. “The Greatest Showman” is directed by exciting new filmmaker, Michael Gracey, with songs by Academy Award® winners Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (“La La Land”) and starring Academy Award nominee Hugh Jackman. Jackman is joined by Zac Efron, Academy Award nominee Michelle Williams, Rebecca Ferguson and Zendaya.
Take a Look:
“Everyone of us is special and nobody is like anyone else.”
Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron and Zendaya Interview Highlights
When Hugh Jackman walks into a room everything stops, he smiles and jokes with us while we are waiting for everyone else to show up. He speaks passionately about bringing this role to life. This project actually began in 2009. Jackman has performed on Broadway and in movies, but at this point he had not done a musical film. Being a risk taker, just like P.T. Barnum he wanted in on a project like this even though the chances were slim. The studio hadn’t approved an original musical in over 23 years and selling 10 original songs to a modern audience would be difficult. When Zac Efron enters room and gets caught up on the conversation he adds that he has always been looking to where he can find a way to integrate music and the dance side of himself into his work in an effective manner. He wanted to work with Hugh on this project and went on to praise him by saying, “And really, what Hugh does as a person in real life, and I’m here at a standing testament to it, he’s, like, one of the best teachers and, like, showmen in the world, literally. He quite literally is the most versatile probably actor alive–.”
Zendaya joins us. She is flawless in her beauty and just as charming as her co-stars. She can also add trapeze artist to her resume. When asked about doing her own her own stunts she replied, “Literally as much as we could do we wanted to do. I think that was the cool part about it, is we kind of had the freedom to just kind of go for it and just have some fun.” Zac Efron lets us know that Zendaya pushed him to work harder on their stunts together. Once they trusted each other they never wanted to stop until it was perfect.
The interview went on for quite some time and I loved the stories that each of them shared. The movie has several themes, but this is what Hugh Jackman had to say about its main theme. “I love the message of this movie, of accepting ourselves for who we are and what we love and the things that really make us feel passionate and not worry about what anyone else thinks.” All three agreed.
Next we were joined by Academy Award winners Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. This duo brought us the music from La La Land and Dear Evan Hanson. Both of those projects were in the works when they began the task of coming up with the score for The Greatest Showman. Can you imagine? They had to cajole their way into a meeting with director Michael Gracey to get on board with this project. Their song writing process always begins and ends with them together. Writing an original musical is a challenging project because as the characters evolve the script changes. Michael Gracey wanted a contemporary feel for this musical and the songwriting team went back and forth with him. They didn’t always agree. Pasek and Paul wrote “This is Me” for the character of Tom Thumb and Gracey pushed them to make it bigger. It works! This is an amazing song perfect for the bearded lady played by Keala Settle! I asked the duo if they had done any research on their own about P.T. Barnum or if they worked solely off the script. Pasek said, “Yes, totally. It’s funny. In terms of especially, like, researching lyric content and thinking about that, I think we read every single slogan or advertisement or, like, coined phrase that P.T. Barnum ever had to sort of think about what that language was.” In a surprising reply from Justin Paul, he informs us that he actually did a fourth grade report on Barnum after visiting the P.T. Barnum Museum on a field trip! Who knew? He also reminds us that this film is based on Barnum’s life and not an accurate depiction although they believe that this is the film that Barnum would have made for himself!
Finally were joined by Director Michael Gracey, Keala Settle, and Rebecca Ferguson.
Rebecca began the interview by letting us know that she had never performed in a musical and this was terrifying for her. Plus she was playing a fellow Swede, that just added to being more terrified! She then said, “And I thought why not just do it and challenge myself?” Keala Settle joins us and let’s us know that she was not thrilled playing the bearded lady! She had to fight her fear every day.”It’s very easy to be scared and to stifle it and act like you’re not. It’s even harder to be afraid and admit it. And I was surrounded by so many people who I didn’t know were there that were–.”
Michael Gracey enters the room and confirms having Settle read for the part while she was still performing Waitress on Broadway. You can sense the amazing friendship exists between Ferguson and Settle. Gracey tells us that he would like to take credit for how special this cast was, but he can’t. He said that fellow actors would just show up and support each other when they weren’t even scheduled to be on set. “Everyone was so enamored with each other and what they were bringing to this film. And that’s really what makes it so special. I wish I could take credit for the direction, but it really was something.” Rebecca reminds Gracey that he should take credit for it as he is the one that put together this cast and created this environment. Settle agrees. The conversation between us continues and touches on subjects that are very much in the news today. This film has so many messages that are well-played. It was a pleasure to get a behind the scenes look through these conversations. I can’t wait to see it again with this knowledge I have now.
This Christmas, dare to dream anything. The #GreatestShowman opens a world of imagination, in theaters December 20. TheGreatestShowmanTickets.com
THE GREATEST SHOWMAN – IN THEATERS DECEMBER 20