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The Greatest Showman Movie Poster

Trivia for The Greatest Showman

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  • Carey Mulligan and Ellen Page were originally considered for the role of Jenny Lind, but director Michael Gracey wanted Rebecca Ferguson for the role.
  • Hugh Jackman sang a preview of one of the musical numbers on his Hugh Jackman: Broadway to Oz tour.
  • This film was a dream project for Hugh Jackman since 2009.
  • This is Zac Efron's fifth musical along with the High School Musical trilogy and Hairspray (2007).
  • In January 2017, the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus announced that their doors were closing forever, due to decreased attendance and protests by animal rights activists. Their last shows were in May 2017.
  • This is Hugh Jackman's first musical since Oklahoma (1999) and Les Mis?rables (2012).
  • Zac Efron and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II previously worked on Baywatch (2017). Michelle Williams debuted in Baywatch (1989).
  • Jenny Lind was written with Anne Hathaway in mind.
  • While shooting a scene where Hugh Jackman saves Zac Efron from a fire, forcing the set to be evacuated.
  • The Greatest Showman (2017) marks the directorial debut of Michael Gracey, after having spent twenty years as an animator, digital compositor, and visual effects supervisor.
  • Michael Gracey said the movie is similar to West Side Story (1961), Mary Poppins (1964), and The Sound of Music (1965).
  • This is the second movie for Hugh Jackman and Michelle Williams since Deception (2008).
  • A well known musical based on P.T.'s life, "Barnum," starring Jim Dale and Glenn Close, was a fine hit on Broadway. With songs written by Cy Coleman and Michael Stewart, the show demands a tour-de-force performance from its star.
  • Zendaya did all of her own trapeze stunts in the film.
  • Although Rebecca Ferguson graduated from Adolf Fredrik's Music School in Stockholm in 1999, her performance as Jenny Lind will be her first appearance on film as a singer.
  • Rebecca Ferguson admitted in an interview that she was extremely nervous when she had to perform a song in the film because she had to sing in front of a full audience, plus the entire crew. She commented that it was Hugh Jackman and his encouraging response to her performance that really helped her at the time.
  • The Greatest Showman (2017) features eleven new songs written by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, the Academy Award winning lyricists of La La Land (2016). From early on in pre-production on the film, the decision was made to have the musical style to evoke more that of contemporary musical genres like pop and hip hop rather than that of a traditional, classical musical style that would accurately evoke the film's 1800s setting. As Pasek said, "The choice was to express not just the characters' feelings, but also how ahead of his time P.T. Barnum was. He wasn't bound by the world in which he lived; he wanted to create one."
  • Hugh Jackman read some three dozen books on PT Barnum to prepare for the title role.
  • Rebecca Ferguson's voice was dubbed by Loren Allred. Ferguson had studied music and admitted that she can carry a tune but since Jenny Lind, her character, is considered the best singer in the world, dubbing her voice would be in service of the movie. However, in order to get into the role, Ferguson insisted on singing the song in front of the extras while filming.
  • Hugh Jackman stated that this film was the hardest he prepared for compared to Logan (2017).
  • Many of the costumes used in the ensemble circus scenes at the beginning and end of the film were borrowed from Feld Entertainment, the current owners of Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, and were used in productions of "The Greatest Show on Earth."
  • James Mangold was brought in by the studio to oversee a week of reshoots and post-production, because the studio were concerned that director Michael Gracey would be overwhelmed by the scale of the production. Mangold was given an executive producer credit as a result.
  • Barnum's wife's family's name is "Hallett." This is pronounced the same way as "Howlett," which was the last name of Hugh Jackman's Wolverine character (James "Logan" Howlett) from the X-Men movies.
  • The young version of Hugh Jackman's character, P.T. Barnum, in The Greatest Showman is caught stealing a loaf of bread to feed himself. Hugh Jackman's character in Les Mis?rables, Jean Valjean, was imprisoned for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his sister's children.
  • Hugh Jackman and director Michael Gracey met on a commercial shoot. Jackman told Gracey he wanted to make a film with him, and Gracey took it with a grain of salt - every famous person he'd worked with had made similar noises. To his surprise, Jackman later sent him the script of The Greatest Showman.
  • In reality, P.T. Barnum dabbled in several industries before "show business", including the lottery business. In an early apartment scene, various old signs can be seen lying against a corner wall, including one that says "Barnham Lottery" in large letters -- a nod to his many colorful endeavors prior to becoming the greatest showman.
  • Barnum's American Museum was so popular that the crowds inside would linger much too long, thereby cutting into profits. To make way for additional paying customers, he posted signs indicating "This Way to the Egress." Unaware that "Egress" was another word for "Exit," people followed the signs to what they assumed was a fascinating exhibit, and they ended up going outside.
  • According to Jackman, the seven year development process was, in part, due to studios' unwillingness to take a risk on an original musical.
  • Hugh Jackman (P.T. Barnum), Keala Settle (Bearded Woman) and Will Swenson (Barnum's Father) were all in Les Miserables. Jackman played Jean Valjean in the 2012 Les Miserables movie. Settle and Swenson were both in the 2014 Broadway revival of Les Miserables, portraying Madame Thenardier and Javert, respectively.
  • Both Hugh Jackman and Zac Efron have played characters with the name "Logan," with Jackman in the X-Men film franchise and Efron in The Lucky One (2012).
  • Zendaya and Zac Efron have worked with Disney.
  • Early in the film, young Barnum gets caught stealing a loaf of bread. The same thing happens to Jean Valjean in Les Miserables. Both characters are played by Hugh Jackman.
  • Keala Settle, Eric Anderson, and Will Swenson have all appeared in the Broadway musical Waitress.
  • Ziv Zaifman provides the singing voice for young P.T. Barnum for the song "A Million Dreams". It was Ziv's singing debut in a major motion picture.
  • Sam Humphrey, the 22-year-old Australian actor who plays Tom Thumb in The Greatest Showman is 127cm or 4'2" in real life. The real Tom Thumb never grew taller than 103cm and was adopted by P.T. Barnum at the age of 4 to join Barnum Circus. Sam Humphrey had to walk on his knees in the movie, to make him look smaller. His real lower legs and feet were digitally edited out of the shots where they would have showed, but mostly he is filmed sitting or standing with his lower legs out of shot.
  • In the movie, Barnum starts a museum from scratch. In reality, he bought an already existing museum from a man named Scudder and improved it.
  • Two members of the original Broadway cast of the musical "Barnum" worked on Greatest Showman as background actors: Marianne Tatum played the original Jenny Lind, and Leonard Crofoot was the original Tom Thumb. The musical ran at the St. James Theatre from April 30, 1980 - May 16, 1982. Tatum and Crofoot stayed with the production for the entirety of its run. "Barnum" also starred Jim Dale as P.T. Barnum and Glenn Close as Charity Barnum.
  • Rebecca Ferguson, the actress who played Jenny Lind, and the actual Jenny Lind were both born in Stockholm, Sweden.
  • During the scene where Barnum (Hugh Jackman) tries to persuade Carlyle (Zac Efron) to join his circus, Barnum says that Carlyle has a flair for show business. The scene originally ran longer, with Carlyle remarking that he doesn't know what 'show business' means, to which Barnum responds that it is because he just invented it. This line featured prominently in trailer, but was cut from the finished movie.
  • The large arched art nouveau stained glass window that is shown prominently above the entrance to the refurbished American Museum building is a replica of the large window above the main entrance to Flinders Street Railway Station, Melbourne Australia.
  • The headline of first newspaper review describes Barnum's show as a "Circus of Humbug". When he's given his top hat before the next show, someone had put a gold crown around the top hat which says "Prince Humbug" or "Prince of Humbug". The words gets mentioned another couple of times in the movie: when introducing Jenny Lind on stage in New York for the first time, Barnum says that people might dismiss the performance as "Barnum Humbug," and when he comes home part way through her tour, he tells his wife that he has come home because he misses her and their girls. She tells him that sounds "like humbug". One of the titles of the real P. T. Barnum's books is "The Humbugs of the World." (1865)
  • At one point, when the circus is struggling, Barnum's girls suggest that he get something "sensational" like a unicorn or a mermaid. In reality, Barnum famously bought and exhibited the "Fiji Mermaid", a monkey carcass sewn to the body of a fish.
  • Among Barnum's "freaks," the film portrays Asian conjoined twins. The actual twins were Chang and Eng Bunker, two brothers born in Siam (modern day Thailand), whose heritage was the basis of the term "Siamese twins." Chang and Eng retired after their life in Barnum's circus to North Carolina, got married and had eleven children and ten children, respectively. However, they became destitute after the American Civil War and went on tour again. They both died in 1874, Chang from a brain blood clot and Eng from heart failure, or shock (the sources differ), merely three hours later.
  • Both Hugh Jackman and Zendaya have played characters in films adapted from Marvel comics. Jackman played Wolverine in the X-Men film franchise and Zendaya played Michelle in Spiderman: Homecoming (2017).
  • Both Hugh Jackman (P.T. Barnum) and Shuler Hensley (Lead Protestor) were cast members of the 1999 London West End revival of Oklahoma, as Curly and Jud Fry, respectively. The pair were also cast in Van Helsing as Van Helsing and the Frankenstein Monster, respectively.
  • When Barnum gives Caroline the *wishing machine* and the girls start singing, Barnum looks into the spinning lights, circus animals appear faintly in the lights. This is both to show that he's being inspired and it's also callback to when Phineas and Charity were young and he shined a light on the chandelier casting animal shadows on the walls.
  • Part of the reason Hugh Jackman's Barnum is so impressed by Rebecca Ferguson's Jenny Lind and so desperate to be her manager is that her singing is such an authentic performance as opposed to the "humbug" or fake shows he has been producing at his circus. Ironically, Ferguson's "real" singing in the film is dubbed by Loren Allred.
  • Rewrite the Stars is similar to the song Rewrite this Story from the tv show Smash. It was also written by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul.
  • When the movie was in the process of being green lit, Hugh Jackman had surgery on his nose to remove skin cancer. Hugh Jackman had 80 stitches and was told by his doctor to not sing. Hugh Jackman followed the doctor's recommendation until it came to the last song From Now On where Hugh chose to sing. Halfway through he noticed his nose was bleeding.
  • P.T. Barnum was born in Bethel, CT, and residence was in Bridgeport until he died at 80. He is buried in Mt Grove Cemetery in Bridgeport. Tom Thumb was born, lived and died in Bridgeport as well.
  • The role of Tom Thumb , portrayed by Sam Humphrey was re-voiced by actor James Babson
  • Near the beginning of the film, a shot of an unfinished Brooklyn Bridge appears in the background. Hugh Jackman previously starred in Kate & Leopold (2001), which also prominently features the Brooklyn Bridge in its unfinished state. In addition, the latter film was directed by James Mangold, who is credited as 'executive producer' for this film.
  • In its 11th week of release in the UK and Ireland, "The Greatest Showman" saw a huge upturn in takings of 26% over the previous weekend, which is almost unheard of. At this stage, its gross box office earnings in this territory were over $53m, an incredibly healthy figure compared to the U.S. gross of $167m, when you consider that the population of Britain is 5 times smaller than the U.S.!
  • Originally Diahann Carroll was going to play as Joice Heth a 161-year-old African-American slave who is hired by P. T. Barnum. But her scenes were cut out of the final film.
  • Shannon Holtzapffel portrays "The Prince of Constantine" or "Tattoo Man," a man whose entire body is covered in tattoos. Counterintuitively, Shannon himself has no tattoos.
  • Shannon Holtzapffel, the actor who plays "Prince Constantine" or "Tattoo Man," wears a body suit throughout the film to give the illusion that he has tattoos.
  • Counterintuitively, Shannon Holtzapffel, the actor who portrays "Tattoo Man," has no tattoos of his own. However, the real life "Tattoo Man," also known as "Prince Constantine," (real name George Costentenus) was genuinely covered from head to toe in tattoos (save for portions of his ears and the soles of his feet). All together he had 387 separate tattoos including exotic animals, geometric shapes, flowers, and writing in various languages.
  • Shuler Hensley (Lead Protestor) and Hugh Jackman appear together in Van Helsing (2004). Hensley plays Frankenstein's Monster.
  • The title "E. Sundahl" appears above a window, presumably of a business, a number of times in the movie. While watching credits, look for set designer Eric Sundahl.
  • Although the film portrays Barnum as a champion of racial equality his record on the subject was decidedly mixed. One of his first exhibits was an elderly African-American slave he had purchased and exhibited as "George Washington's Nursemaid". However in his later career as a politician he campaigned ardently for the abolition of slavery, swapping from the Democrat to the Republican party and declaring "A human soul, 'that God has created and Christ died for,' is not to be trifled with. It may tenant the body of a Chinaman, a Turk, an Arab or a Hottentot - it is still an immortal spirit."
  • The singing voice of Rebecca Ferguson was dubbed.
  • In the movie, one of the protestors refers to the African American performers as "spooks", an insulting and derogatory term not actually used in society until the 1940s, 80 years after the movie takes place.
  • The director of Barnum's acting company in 1850 was Francis Courtney Wemyss. He bore a striking resemblance to Emmy winning actor John Larroquette.
  • Sam Humphrey plays General Tom Thumb who met Queen Victoria and the Duke of Wellington. However, he looks like one of Barnum's other performers, Admiral Dot, the Eldorado Elf. The Admiral met Abraham Lincoln at the White House.
  • Barnum was embarrassed by one picture of himself with a lady performer. A photo taken in Matthew Brady's studio shows him ogling a dancer named Ernestine de Faiber in 1864.
  • Surprisingly, this film did not portray James Anthony Bailey who was a co-founder Of Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Circus although he had a major impact on the circus and would later go on, with P.T Barnum to create "The Greatest Show On Earth".
  • Zac Efron said that the kiss that he and Zendaya had in this film was his favorite kiss of all time.
  • Phillip Carlyle (Zac Efron) and Anne Wheeler (Zendaya) were fictional characters, along with their love story, made up for the film.

Spoilers

  • In reality, P.T. Barnum and Tom Thumb met Queen Victoria, but the rest of Barnum's performers did not.
  • In the song "The Other Side," Hugh Jackman sarcastically retorts a request from Zac Efron for 18% with a suggestion for "nickels on the dime". Toward the end of the movie when Hugh Jackman reveals no bank will loan him money, Zac Efron reveals he has been taking his 10% of receipts out weekly and saving it. They shake hands on a "nickels on the dime" agreement to save the circus.
  • When Caroline Barnum is cruelly teased by the other ballerinas who said that there was a smell of peanuts, none of the audiences outside the US understood why they said that. The reason is that circus peanuts were only an American tradition.
  • Near the end, Barnum says Manhattan real estate is a bad investment and all they need is a tent. The current average cost of a condo or flat in Manhattan is now $2,000,000.00.
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