The Greatest Showman comes out in a couple weeks. Oscar campaigning is in full swing and Hugh Jackman is on the cover of Variety, a favourite read of Academy voters. Is Hugh Jackman a contender? In October, Sarah wrote about his chances and she decided that he doesn’t have a shot. I don’t think Hugh knows that. This Variety feature feels like campaigning to me. It reads like a really long For Your Consideration ad. That’s not a bad thing. I appreciate Hugh’s hustle. This feature details just how hard Hugh has hustled – from the first X-Men film all the way to The Greatest Showman. 

The Greatest Showman is described in this piece as the “bright and ebullient” musical antithesis to La La Land’s “darker realism.” They’re pushing it as a “joyful and optimistic” feel-good holiday movie. It’s a smart sell, even if PT Barnum is problematic as f-ck. (Sarah’s suggestion when I whined about really wanting to like this movie despite its historical inaccuracies was to pretend it’s fiction so that’s what I’m going to do). We all know how well La La Land went over with Academy voters. In my opinion, if Hugh should be nominated for anything this year, it should be Logan but The Greatest Showman is a big musical biopic lead by one of the most likeable men in Hollywood. It’s more in line with the Academy’s vibe. Hugh is putting himself in the conversation at a critical point in his career. 

Variety points out that this is the first time in that high profile career that Jackman does not have another X-Men or Wolverine film on the horizon. Hugh’s got Jason Reitman’s The Front Runner up next and after that, he seems to want to focus on musicals. With this admission, Hugh Jackman proves that he occupies a singular space in Hollywood. What other A-list leading man is a superhero AND a singing and dancing superstar? The only other person I can think of having similar range is Channing Tatum. But he’s not Gambit yet and he’s not a Broadway star either. Hugh Jackman is going to be fine no matter what he decides to do because he’s Hugh Jackman but the exciting thing to me is that he could really do anything and it wouldn’t be a surprise. 

Also not surprising is the way people around Hugh Jackman talk about him. He’s got a great reputation. He’s like Tom Cruise in that he leaves everyone who meets him in awe of his kindness. In Tom’s case, the sincerity of his generosity is often questioned. I don’t think that’s the case with Hugh. I produced Hugh Jackman on The Social (that time his co-star Taron Egerton fell in love with Lainey) and I can confirm that he is exceptionally nice. He learns your name and looks you in the eyes and basically does the bare minimum decent thing a human should do when they meet new people but he’s a celebrity so HE’S THE NICEST MAN ALIVE. But actually, he’s super nice. And Hugh swears it’s not just for show. 
“I also genuinely love the family aspect of what we do, and I feel more comfortable being relaxed and myself with everybody, rather than a feeling of ‘Oh, I’m a big actor; you can’t talk to me.’ My way of connecting — maybe people attribute it as being nice, but it’s just being a normal person.”

That normalcy is what makes Hugh so likeable. He’s got a few weeks of promoting Showman to remind everyone how nice and normal he is. He’s also a GREAT showman – on talk shows, on late night. If Hugh hustles hard, shakes enough hands and kisses enough babies, maybe his chances aren’t as bad as we think. 

You can read the full Variety feature here