Actor Zac Efron was ready to turn down a part in new movie musical The Greatest Showman until he discovered Hugh Jackman was attached to the lead role.
The former Disney star rose to fame in the High School Musical franchise, but has since worked hard to expand his resume with a variety of comedy and drama films to prove he can do more than just sing and dance.
His eagerness to move away from musical projects meant Zac almost passed on the chance to feature in The Greatest Showman when he was first approached for the gig.
“Just for a minute, I took a step back and thought about not doing it,” he shared in a pre-taped New Year’s Eve (31Dec17) cast appearance on Britain’s The Graham Norton Show, “but in my heart, I always wanted to find my way back to my musical roots and when I heard Hugh was playing the lead, I was like, ‘Hell yes!’ It’s a dream come true.”
Jackman portrays real-life 19th century circus legend P.T. Barnum in the new movie, with Zac cast as playwright Phillip Carlyle, and Zendaya co-starring as Efron’s onscreen love interest, a mixed race trapeze artist named Anne Wheeler.
The young characters’ interracial romance initially courts controversy in the film, with the couple eventually managing to transcend adversity through its love for each other.
Zac recently explained the story’s promotion of cross-cultural harmony was part of the reason why he signed on to the project.
“That was one of the most important things to get across with this role and one of the most profoundly important things that Zendaya and I wanted to both get across and felt capable of in this part,” Efron explains to CNN. “What else can you do through a musical other than spread love and communicate a message that you really care about?”