According Justin Paul, he and Benj Pasek aren’t technically the official songwriters for their latest film. “Funny enough, we have yet to be hired as the songwriters for The Greatest Showman,” Paul told Collider at a New York-based press junket. “It was literally a one song at a time competition – you know, death match – so that was a funny process.”
Of course, Paul and Pasek are in fact the songwriters for The Greatest Showman, which took years to finally get off the ground. Their work started with “A Million Dreams,” the second song performed in the film by a combination of Hugh Jackman, on-screen wife Michelle Williams, and child actors. “It was sort of the way we tested our collaboration with [director] Michael Gracey,” Pasek said. “We were like, ‘Please like this! Please like this!’ And it wasn’t right at first and he had a lot of notes, but I guess it got the ball rolling.”
Jackman was first attached to the film in 2009 and said it took so long to make because studios didn’t want to take a chance on an original movie musical. That’s something Paul and Pasek have both experienced with director Damien Chazelle with La La Land long before the film became an awards darling. Now, we’ve reached a time when “it’s not completely uncool to do musicals” – and the songwriters tip their hats to the era of Disney animated musicals.
“We feel like there’s a whole generation that’s really primed for accepting musical storytelling that might not’ve been the case 10 years ago,” Pasek said.
The Greatest Showman tells the story of P.T. Barnum (Jackman) as he launches his famed Barnum & Bailey Circus with a troupe of oddities. Zac Efron, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, and Tony winner Keala Settles also feature in the film, which is set for release on Dec. 20.
Watch our full video interview with Paul and Pasek above.