Why The Greatest Showman Had To Bribe Keala Settle With Whiskey To Get Her To Audition

This is Me full cast singing in The Greatest Showman

The Holiday season is prime real estate during the yearly film schedule, as major blockbusters are released for cinephiles and families that have some extra time on their hands. One genre that seems to often utilize this date are movie musicals, as we've seen through releases like Les Miserables, Into the Woods, and Chicago. This past holiday season brought us The Greatest Showman, a musical romp loosely based off the life of P.T. Barnum. With it came the new anthem "This Is Me," which won a Golden Globe and picked up an Oscar nomination along the way. But it turns out that singer/actress Keala Settle had to be bribed to audition for the role of Bearded Lady Lettie Lutz. Namely, because fellow Broadway star Shoshana Bean had previously recorded the demo, Settle thought she might be better. As she tells it,

I said, 'Hell, no!' I knew Shoshana had done the demo and I said, 'You call her, tell her to come and sing it, and I'll sing back up for her.' Because I'm a huge fan, I love her voice. I love who she is as an artist. And when I heard her sing it I went, 'Well, nobody else is going to sing this.' And to be honest, I still don't think anybody else can sing it except Sho. So I tried with everything to dodge that bullet.

While Keala Settle's voice has impressed million through her role in The Greatest Showman, as well as her long history on Broadway, it seems she was lacking the last bit of confidence regarding belting out "This Is Me." Shoshana Bean (Wicked) is another powerhouse vocalist, and Settle seemed to, ahem, settle for the background at first approach.

The folks behind the film ultimately wanted Keala Settle to come in and audition for Lettie Lutz, and they were willing to do whatever it took in order to get the best talent in the room. So what exactly did it take to bribe Settle? Turns out, it's a bottle of Jamo, courtesy of Hugh Jackman and director Michael Gracey. As she told Variety,

Finally when it was time to do it, T-minus one day, Hugh and Michael came up to me and said, 'What is it going to take for you to sing this song?' I said, 'If you buy me a bottle of Jameson, I'll do it.' They kept it in a bag and said, 'This is yours if you sing the song.' I'm very cheap that way.

Everyone involved seemed to make the right call, as Keala Settle has performed the powerhouse anthem all over the country at this point. While you may have seen her on Broadway in shows like Les Miserables and Waitress, The Greatest Showman proved to be a star making moment for her.

You can catch The Greatest Showman On Demand and for home purchase. In the meantime, check out our 2018 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Double majored in theater and literature during undergrad. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid.