The legend of P.T. Barnum has rippled across the years, centuries even, to become part of the cultural myth of America. From his beginnings as a humble businessman, Barnum built an empire of entertainment, shaping the way that Americans perceive show business to this day. His is a story of grandiose bombast, of failure and success, of the selling of your wildest dreams. In short, it’s a story almost tailor made for the silver screen.
The Greatest Showman on Earth aims to do just that, bringing Hugh Jackman (The Wolverine) into the role of P.T. Barnum for an extravagant Hollywood musical. It’s a fitting form for the founder of what eventually became The Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, which tours the world to this day under the banner of “the greatest show on earth.” Zac Efron (Neighbors 2) and Michelle Williams (Oz the Great and Powerful) are currently in negotiations to co-star with Jackman in the musical biopic, set to be released next year. Now, a new report suggests that another up and coming young star joins them in negotiations for a potential role.
THR is confirming that Zendaya (K.C. Undercover) is in talks to join the film as a trapeze artist who becomes the object of Efron’s affections, should he wind up with the role. The news represents the latest step in Zendaya’s transition from television to movies, with actress currently filming a role in Spider-Man: Homecoming.
Zendaya’s presence in the film will be a natural transition for the young actress, given her background in music and dance. Musically, she most recently appeared in Beyonce’s visual album, Lemonade, but the actress is also known as one of the youngest contestants to appear on Dancing with the Stars. She certainly has the chops needed to shine in a star-studded musical that celebrates the life of a man whose name is synonymous with show business and excess.
With a script being co-written by Michael Arndt (Toy Story 3) with original songs by Justin Paul and Benj Pasek (Smash), the project is a labor of love for Jackman, who has reportedly spent years developing the project. Jackman is no stranger to musical cinema; having previously starred in Les Miserables and a television production of the musical Oklahoma!, Jackman is the perfect man to bring the musical to life.
It’s been a long road for the project; The Greatest Showman on Earth was previously set to begin production last year after being announced back in 2009. Now, with Efron, Williams, and Zendaya in talks, the pre-production seems to be moving at a steady pace. It can often be difficult for big Hollywood projects to get off of the ground, but Jackman’s steady support of the film speaks loudly to passion he feels for the story, and could bode well for its overall quality.
While it’s important to note that, as of yet, Efron hasn’t signed on and Zendaya’s negotiations are still in the early stages, their signing on will have a major impact on the film’s production and the hype leading up to its release. Zendaya can, perhaps, get some pointers from her would-be co-star about making the transition from childhood star to adult actor, a transition which Efron has been handling with relative ease since his days as a teen heartthrob. We’ll certainly be paying attention to these latest developments, and we’ll keep you posted on updates as they become available.
The Greatest Showman on Earth will open in U.S. theaters on December 25, 2017.