The Greatest Showman wasn’t an easy sell to Holllywood. Director Michael Gracey and star Hugh Jackman had to jump through hoops to get it made.
“To get The Greatest Showman greenlit, we had to get everyone into New York City to hear a read through, where we’d read through the script and sing it,” explains Gracey in the “Making Of” video above. “It took eight months to get everyone in the room, and Hugh calls me the day before…”
And, he delivered terrible news: “I had just had a skin cancer cut out of my nose,” Jackman continues. “All was fine, but I had 80 stitches in my nose and my doctor said, ‘You’re not allowed to sing.’”
The new plan was that Jackman would act all the scenes and during songs he would stand, gesticulate, act the songs, but Tony nominee Jeremy Jordan would sing the role—just for the purposes of the read through.
The room was packed with Broadway voices to sing the music of Benj Pasek and Justin Paul in hopes that 20th Century Fox would want to produce the film. Tony winner Cynthia Erivo, Keala Settle (who wound up being cast as the Bearded Lady in the film), Tameka Lawrence, and more sang the score. But when the performance reached the climactic number “From Now On,” Jackman couldn’t handle it any longer. He was moved to sing.
“He did that for every single number, he stood up there, he was The Great Showman, until one number...,” says Gracey.
Watch the video above to see the moment when Jackman throws caution to the wind (he is healthy now) and the choir of singers moves him to tears.
The Greatest Showman hits theatres nationwide December 20.