If you're anything like us, you're an absolute sucker for a musical. So when The Greatest Showman hit cinemas, you were the first one there — bringing your mum and your mates along for the ride — and ending the night dancing in the aisles and pretending you have the skills of drop-dead-gorgeous Zendaya and take-your-shirt-off-right-now Zac Efron.
Since watching you've definitely listened to the soundtrack a few too many times and considered whether you'd be able to pull off the bearded look whilst singing "This Is Me" to yourself in the bathroom mirror. We're not judging… We're right there with you, bro.
So, being the super fan that you are, how would you feel if you were offered the chance to be taught the OG dances from The Greatest Showman by one of the actual cast members?! You'd freak out right? Well, so did we.
Two lucky Cosmopolitan Australia writers had the chance to attend a dance class with Shannon Holtzapffel (AKA 'The Tattooed Man'), where he attempted to teach us the choreography to "The Greatest Show" song.
…We say 'attempted' because we were potentially the most un-coordinated students poor Shannon had ever had to deal with. Need proof? Watch us giving it a go, here.
If you would like to learn from the actual professionals, then take a look at their official tutorial here.
After sweating it out on the d-floor with 'The Tattooed Man' himself, we had the chance to pick his brain about the movie and what it was really like to work on our new favourite musical.
What was the casting process like for The Greatest Showman?
My journey was a little bit different. The auditions were held in New York, but in my case I was brought in earlier by the director on a few things prior. The director brought me on to help in 'previews', which is the development and conceptualisation of the musical sequences. So really I helped build it from the front end with the director and the concept artist, and the animator. There were other choreographers on board, and I would take their steps and put them in the environment. We worked on the previews for nine months and that meant that I bypassed the casting process — that was my way in! I was already working on it, and the director was like, 'Would you like a role in the film?' Originally, the director asked me if I wanted to be 'The Strong Man,' but there's a bit of preparation in that!
But when I came across Prince Constantine (AKA 'The Tattooed Man'), I actually presented him just because I felt like I could embody him the best—present the closest truth to the original story. So that was my process of casting!
How did you prepare for the role?
My process for him was that I grew my hair out, after the research, because I didn't want to put a fake beard on, you know? I wanted to live that. I would say it was a method process, but the role really wasn't that deep for me, because we're an ensemble cast.
But the big process was the makeup! I don't have a single tattoo on my body — I'm completely bare. So I was in the makeup chair for two and half hours before every scene, so they could do my face. My hands and neck were actually semi-permanent tattoos, so they would last for two weeks at a time and then I would get them re-applied. So when I wasn't shooting, and I was going on the subway in New York every day, I would be covered in these tattoos — but with big gaps all over my body! But I loved it! Even though it took me 30 minutes to take it off in the shower every night!
Aesthetically though, I think he really made a mark in the film, and I was really proud to play him.
How long does it take to shoot one of the musical numbers in the movie?
They all varied from song to song, but "This Is Me," for example, was shot over a few days — two to three days or so. The big circus scenes took longer, a week or so to do.
"From Now On" took about a day and a half — but really knock them out! Really, it's only a three minute routine.
In your opinion, who was the best dancer out of Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron, Zendaya and Michelle Williams?
Throw me under the bus, why don't you! I think we'd need a dance battle for that answer! They are all great dancers, but Hugh Jackman definitely comes from a Broadway musical background and then Zac is from a musical film background — which is a lot more commercial than stage theatre. So they both had their own flare and style. Let's just say Zac has a younger approach and Hugh is much more seasoned. But, oh, Zendaya! She's amazing, she's a superstar! I loved working with her. She's definitely going places.
I did get to train with Michelle a little bit, and her training was a lot more strenuous. Her and Hugh were rehearsing every other day for a good three months at least. And that's a shock to the system when you're not keeping up with your fitness! I mean, they are fit, but this in itself is so different. She'd get tired and sore, but honestly that happened to all of us.
Did you get breaks for injuries at all?
Well here's the thing, you've got to stick to the shooting schedule! As P.T. Barnum would say, "The show must go on!" right? But we're trained to push through these things.
At what point did you know that "This Is Me" was going to be such a big hit?
From the very beginning! On my journey, I got to work on putting that together after the song was written, and I just knew. That really is the heart of the film — it's really carried the message of the movie. And it's transcended to the majority of the audiences. It's just a really positive song saying, 'Don't get down'—but actually everyone gets their own messages out of it. But it definitely raises the morale for everyone.
When Keala first started working on it, the first thing I said to her was, "Are you ready for this?" But she knew what it was going to be because she got to perform it for FOX and everyone. Just straight out the gate it was going to be hit.
Will there be a Greatest Showman 2 in the works?
Taking The Greatest Showman's P.T. Barnum to heart, "The Show must go on"?! I'm not aware that's even a thought currently, for another film, not right now. I do see the potential of there being a live touring event or Broadway show. However, I can imagine, the capabilities of a sequel with the continuation of the Barnum Circus, or spin-off's. Never say never, as there are creative possibilities with the room for more character development and backstories. Who wants the story of Prince Constantine? Prequel anyone?
We're down! But until that's in the works we can definitely keep ourselves entertained by watching The Greatest Showman on repeat and singing and dancing along as bloody best we can! Get yourself down to the shops and bring the spectacle home on Blu-ray and DVD today!