Audiences continue to flock to theaters to drink in the visual and audio delights of the show-stopping new musical The Greatest Showman. In it, entertainer Hugh Jackman puts on his best song-and-dance routine to play P.T. Barnum, famed peddler of the three-ring oddities who risked his personal and professional stakes to build an entertainment empire. But as I watched Jackman create the on-screen persona of P.T. Barnum, I thought only of the actor's passionate performance as Angier in Christopher Nolan's brilliant show-biz thriller, The Prestige. So when CinemaBlend sat across from Jackman to discuss The Greatest Showman, we brought up the Prestige comparison, and learned it was no accident. Jackman told us:
Definitely. I mean, Angier was someone who had an instinct for audiences. He had a passion, and an obsession, with performing and an understanding that he's doing it for the audience. Barnum... he's a flawed character. And you see that in this movie. But he had a sixth sense about what audiences wanted, and also, he would not take no for an answer. And if you backed him into a corner, he would fight. So definitely. That is a good parallel there.
In Christopher Nolan's The Prestige, Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale play stage magicians -- illusionists, if you will -- who dedicate their lives (and make painful sacrifices) to entertaining the masses with escalating feats of impossible trickery. The men are obsessed with each other's acts, and the more they try to figure out how each is pulling off a magic trick, the more they let their personal lives crumble.
Figuring out the art of a performance, and unraveling the mystery behind a successful show, speaks to both P.T Barnum AND Angier, the character that Hugh Jackman played in The Prestige, though they come at in in two different ways. For Angier, the struggle to entertain became a single-serving quest, one that consumed him and cost him everyone who he held close. Barnum -- though he damages his relationship with wife Charity (Michelle Williams) -- brings more people into his fold in an effort to create the Greatest Show On Earth. Collaboration was never Angier's strong suit.
Here's Hugh Jackman, talking about the parallels that exist between The Greatest Showman and The Prestige, possibly the best movie of which Jackman ever has been a part:
The Greatest Showman currently plays theaters near you, and though it's competing against blockbuster hits like Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, it's posting impressive numbers as word of mouth draws more people into multiplexes. Hugh Jackman knows that both Barnum and Angiers would be proud of the movie's heralded success.