Hugh Jackman thinks P.T. Barnum would have flourished in Chicago

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Hugh Jackman as P.T. Barnum in “The Greatest Showman.” | Twentieth Century Fox

In the new musical film “The Greatest Showman” (opening Wednesday), Hugh Jackman returns to his song-and-dance roots to play the title character,P.T. Barnum. Asked during an interview in New York what he would have loved to ask Barnum — if he could have met the man credited with inventing the modern concept of show business — Jackman speculated the discussion likely would have been one-sided.

“There were so many things I would have loved to discuss with Barnum, but I don’t know how much of true conversation it would be. I think it would have been more of a one-way conversation, with him doing all the talking!” Jackman said with a laugh.

Pausing for a moment, the Australian native smiled and added, “Speaking of Barnum, and knowing what I know about Chicago, I think your city would have been a good place for him. For me, Chicago is a place where a strongly driven, self-starting showman would likely succeed. Correct me if I’m mistaken [I didn’t], but I think Chicago loves original characters — perhaps even those who bend the rules now and then.”

Going on about Barnum, Jackman laughed as he noted, “You know, he wrote three versions of his autobiography. By the time he was starting the third, he bought up every copy he could find of the first one, and had them burned. He completely rewrote his memoirs — much as the way he would rewrite stories he would tell about himself.

“He was one of those great characters who would not take no for an answer. He saw the world completely different from anyone else. I think he was cheeky. He was funny. He was always surrounded by people who were interesting — writers and artists and political thinkers. … He was a fascinating character.”

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