The Greatest Showman was an incredible movie in a lot of ways. It became one of the biggest box office movies of 2017 grossing nearly a half billion dollars at the global box office without ever hitting number one domestically. The movie succeeded on word of mouth and repeat viewership in a way that few movies actually do. The soundtrack was a huge hit as well. It's a rare level of success for a movie musical these days, and it turns out that the big hero was actually not Hugh Jackman, or Zac Efron, but Tony award nominee and Supergirl co-star Jeremy Jordan.
In early 2020 Jeremy Jordan performed a one man show called Carry On in which he relayed the whole story, and a clip of the section involving The Greatest Showman recently dropped online. Jordan explains that he originally recorded demo versions of all of Hugh Jackman's songs from the film, as he had a relationship with songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. While Hugh Jackman had already been cast in the lead of P.T. Barnum, Jordan was excited to learn of the role of Philip Carlyle as it was potentially a role he could play. Spoiler alert, the role was eventually played by Zac Efron.
Later, Jeremy Jordan was asked to fly to New York to perform the music for potential investors. Hugh Jackman was there, but having recently had minor surgery on his nose, was told by his doctor not to sing. As a result, Jordan sang all of Jackman's songs as well as those for the Carlyle character. In the performance, Jeremy Jordan revealed he felt he was being quite impressive, but then during the rendition of the film's last song "From Now On," something happened,
And suddenly there’s a bustling next to me. And I look over and Hugh is looking very antsy. Like did he need to go to the bathroom? And he starts nodding at me, and I’m like ‘I don’t know what you want.’ Oh shit… don’t do it Hugh. And he starts singing.
Against doctor's orders, Hugh Jackman began to sing the song he wasn't supposed to be singing. Having said that, the moment was pretty inspirational and everybody gets into it. It was captured in a behind-the-scenes video you can check out below. Jackman and Jordan even high five at one point.
Considering how well the performance went, Jeremy Jordan would have probably felt that he had made a pretty strong case for his own role in the movie. Unfortunately, as the actor learned before he even left the building, it was not to be. Jordan continues...
And he sang the goddamn damn song and it was beautiful and astonishing and very moving. And I played along like a champ but inside I was crushed. It turns out it was not my redemption moment, it was his. And the song ends and the applause is deafening. The spirits are high, the movie is greenlit. And I got out of there as fast as humanly possible. But not before hearing somebody whisper that Hugh had just met with Zac Efron about the part of Phillip.
I have to say, after hearing this story and seeing how good Jeremy Jordan could have been in it, I fell like somebody owes this guy a lead role in a major movie musical. He's already done the work, he needs to be given the rewards. He performs a great deal of the music as part of the clip that's available (check it out, it's all pretty good) and he absolutely would have killed it. In the end, the fact that The Greatest Showman was even made is in large part thanks to Jordan, so fans of the movie should at least be aware of his contribution.