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Jackman will play P.T. Barnum, who founded the traveling show that became the famous Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. The film project will be directed by Michael Gracey. Zac Efron also is in talks to join the movie.
Chernin Entertainment is producing along with Jackman and Laurence Mark from a script by Jenny Bicks. Michael Arndt is penning the latest script.
The movie is a musical, so the filmmakers have been looking for a female lead that could handle both the singing and acting requirements.
The original songs are by Justin Paul and Benj Pasek, the songwriter team who worked on NBC’s musical series Smash as well as stage musicals James and the Giant Peach and A Christmas Story, The Musical.
Williams was most recently seen on Broadway, starring in Blackbird opposite Jeff Daniels (she was nominated for a Tony for her work). She’s previously shown her musical chops by starring in Cabaret on Broadway. The actress also sang when she played Marilyn Monroe in the 2011 film My Week With Marilyn.
Williams’ other recent credits include Kelly Reichardt’s Certain Women and Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester by the Sea, both of which debuted at Sundance. She also stars in Wonderstruck, Todd Haynes’ upcoming drama that also stars Julianne Moore. Williams is repped by WME, Brillstein Entertainment and Bloom Hergott.
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