You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

First-Time Director Michael Gracey on Working With Hugh Jackman on ‘The Greatest Showman’

For first-time director Michael Gracey, transitioning from commercials and music videos to feature-length films was “the difference between sprinting and a marathon.” The Aussie got his start working in visual effects but developed a knack for directing after working on music video “Karma” by 1200 Techniques. He combines his talents for musical biopic “The Greatest Showman.”

How did you start in visual effects?

Classically, it’s the child who looks up at their parents who says, “This is how the future is going to be,” and it’s the parents who don’t understand because they’re set in their ways. For me, it was the exact opposite. My dad sat me down at an IBM AT with a black screen and green text and said, “This is going to change the way that all image making is done in the future.” I looked up at him, the classic teenager, and said, “Yeah, Dad, everyone wants to look at green pictures.” He looked at me like I was the village idiot. It was such a disappointing moment for him. Year after year, I see the advancements in computer imagery and get reminded of my stupidity as a teenager. In “The Greatest Showman,” I’m back doing VFX myself, allowing me to craft exactly how something looks, one frame at a time.

How did you get the “Greatest Showman” gig? 

Like “Lost in Translation,” I worked on an advertisement where a Hollywood star was doing a commercial just for Japan. The star was Hugh Jackman. Since I’m Australian, they just assumed I knew him, and I didn’t correct them. On the first day of rehearsals, Hugh walks in, he sees me, puts his arms out and shouts, “Michael!” As we’re hugging he whispers in my ear, “Yeah, mate, they think I know you, so just go along with it.” So we pretended like we were best friends the whole shoot, and we had so much fun. When Hugh said, “Let’s make a movie,” I wasn’t even that excited, and to this day he reminds me.

He called back?
Traditionally what happens is that you never hear from that actor again. In Hugh’s case, true to his character, he sent me a script for the first draft of “The Greatest Showman.”

Things you didn’t know about Michael Gracey


More Artisans

  • Ready Player One

    'Ready Player One’ Juxtaposes Real, Virtual Via VFX From Three Shops

    Director Steven Spielberg set an ambitious goal for himself and his “Ready Player One” VFX team: weaving viewers in and out of a virtual world within the storytelling parameters of a traditional film. The movie, released by Warner Bros. in March, is one of five up for a visual effects Oscar this year. To adapt Ernest [...]

  • Danai Gurira, Lupita Nyong'o, Michael B.

    Armani, Variety Salute Beauty Innovators in Makeup Styling

    On Feb. 20, Variety and Armani Beauty will team up for the 2019 Make-Up Artistry Dinner to toast four of the most sought-after celebrity make-up artists in Hollywood: Nick Barose, Molly Greenwald, Beau Nelson and Patrick Ta. Held at Sunset Tower Restaurant Terrace, this A-list-studded event, featuring such dazzling stars as Olivia Munn and Constance [...]

  • Black Panther

    'Black Panther,' 'Crazy Rich Asians,' 'Westworld' Among Costume Designers Guild Winners

    “Crazy Rich Asians,” “The Favourite” and “Black Panther” walked away with top honors at the 21st annual Costume Designers Guild Awards Tuesday night, the final industry guild show before the Oscars on Feb. 24. “The Favourite” and “Black Panther” are up for the Oscar this year, along with “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” “Mary Poppins [...]

  • DF-10193 – L-R: Ben Hardy (Roger Taylor),

    'Bohemian Rhapsody' Leads MPSE Golden Reel Awards for Sound Editing

    “Bohemian Rhapsody” followed up love from Cinema Audio Society sound mixers with a pair of honors at the Motion Picture Sound Editors’ 66th annual Golden Reel Awards Sunday night. The musical biopic scored wins for dialogue and ADR as well as sound editing in a musical. The film is nominated for sound editing at the Oscars [...]

  • Bohemian Rhapsody

    'Bohemian Rhapsody,' 'Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' Among Cinema Audio Society Winners

    Queen biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” won the Cinema Audio Society’s top prize for sound mixing at Saturday night’s 55th annual CAS Awards. The film is Oscar-nominated for sound mixing this year along with “Black Panther,” “First Man,” “Roma” and “A Star Is Born.” In a surprise over heavy-hitters “Incredibles 2” and “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” Wes [...]

  • Marvelous Mrs Maisel Vice

    'Vice,' 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' Lead Make-Up and Hair Stylists Guild Awards Winners

    Adam McKay’s Dick Cheney biopic “Vice,” starring Oscar nominees Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Sam Rockwell, won two awards at the sixth annual Make-Up and Hair Stylists Guild Awards Saturday night. The film won for best period and/or character makeup as well as special makeup effects. “Mary Queen of Scots” received the prize for period [...]

  • ILM John Kroll Star Wars VFX

    Sci-Tech Awards Honored After Effects, Photoshop Developers' Major Impact on VFX

    On Feb. 9, two weeks and a day before the Oscars, the Motion Picture Academy held its annual Scientific and Technical Achievement Awards — sometimes referred to as the nerd Academy Awards — honoring achievements in motion picture technology.  The ceremony included no surprise winners — Sci-Tech kudos are announced in advance, and the achievements [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content