Zac Efron Relates to His ‘Greatest Showman’ Character: He’s ‘Successful’ Yet Still ‘Feels Really Unfulfilled’

Zac Efron took on entirely new role in The Greatest Showman, playing Phillip Carlyle, a performer at P.T. Barnum’s (Hugh Jackman) circus production. While he does have a background with musical theater, this part is much different.

At the New York premiere of the film, Efron spoke exclusively with Us Weekly, revealing that he could relate with Phillip, his character who considers himself “successful.”

Zac Efron and Zendaya in ‘The Greatest Showman’
Zac Efron and Zendaya in ‘The Greatest Showman’

“He’s got money. He’s acquired a name for himself. He has a claim and status in the world, or as he puts it … a ticket to every party in town, yet he still feels really unfulfilled,” Efron told Us on Friday, December 8. “It takes a few lessons from P.T. Barnum to open his eyes to get him to see the world differently. To learn to lead with love. That part I really enjoyed and I can relate to Phillip in that respect. The craving for something more, you know?”

Zendaya and Zac Efron in ‘The Greatest Showman’
Zendaya and Zac Efron in ‘The Greatest Showman’

Efron, 30, also revealed that he learned a lot from his cast members, who include Zendaya and Rebecca Ferguson and the crew. “They work tirelessly. Making a movie these days is not easy in any respect so it was fun to watch them navigate and hold true to do what they set out to do from day one, despite the obstacles and the things that can get in the way of any film, especially a musical,” the actor added. “[Director] Michael Gracey was steadfast and often times worked tirelessly through the night to accomplish what we all really wanted, which was a one of a kind, all original, beautiful musical. It tells an important message for today, but also leaves you really happy at the end.”

The film earned three Golden Globe nominations, announced on Monday, December 11, including Best Motion Picture — Musical or Comedy.

With reporting by Marc Lupo.

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