In a move that’s really a surprise to no one, Twentieth Century Fox has cast Hugh Jackman as legendary American showman P.T. Barnum in The Greatest Showman on Earth, a contemporary musical about Barnum’s career as a showman and the creation of his famous three-ring circus.
Jackman will also produce the film along with Laurence Mark and his Seed Productions partner John Palermo. The three previously pooled their efforts for the 81st Academy Awards earlier this year, which Jackson also hosted. The script is being written by Sex and the City scribe, Jenny Bicks.
According to Variety, “Jackman will play the showman with a penchant for hoaxing a gullible public as he creates the three-ring circus that made him famous. The musical also focuses on his infatuation with singer Jenny Lind — the so-called Swedish Nightingale.”
The role of Jenny Lind is reportedly being tailored to fit Anne Hathaway (Alice In Wonderland), who ironically performed (pretty well) in a musical number alongside Jackman during the Oscars ceremony. Fox is also supposedly in talks with British singer-songwriter Mika to handle the score.
Now, I’m not the most renowned P.T. Barnum scholar in the world by any means, however the guys over at Slash Film point out that this cinematic take on Barnum seems to be more interested in the man’s public persona – a silver-tongued hustler – rather than trying to get at the heart of who Barnum, the-man-behind-the-persona, really was. I’m no expert on musicals either, so maybe this is the best approach? Maybe not.
All I know is: this role seems very similar to Jackman’s upcoming turn as a silver-tongued cosmetics hustler salesman in Avon Man. But hey, it’s hard to hate on Hugh, so more power to him.
Finally, it was recently announced that Columbia Pictures has a P.T. Barnum film in the works. That film is supposed to focus more on Barnum’s early years rather than the height of his fame (and of course it isn’t a musical), however, no telling now how The Greatest Showman on Earth will affect that project.
We’ll let you know more about either project when we hear more.
Sources: Variety via Slash Film