Hugh Jackman is set to launch a pop star-like tour next year, but he’s done his research: He’s been to a Beyonce concert. A Justin Timberlake concert. And a Michael Jackson concert.
“I’ve seen some of the greats,” Jackman said in an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday. “And the great performers for me are the ones who can connect with the person in the back and in the front. And I’ll sometimes sit in the back ’cause I wanna know am I feeling it back here? ’Cause I’m from the theater, [so] for me everything I do has to connect to every single person.”
The regular concert attendee is hoping to make some strong connections with fans when he launches his first world tour — dubbed “The Man. The Music. The Show.” — next year. Accompanied by a live orchestra, he will perform songs from The Greatest Showman, Les Miserables and Broadway musicals, among other selections.
“I’ve always felt strangely at home on a stage, no matter how big the stage is — sometimes even more than in life,” said the actor, known for roles like Wolverine. “Never in my wildest dreams did I think when I turned 50 I would be playing Madison Square Garden or the Hollywood Bowl.”
Jackman, who was born in Australia, did an arena tour there three years ago, but he didn’t think he could replicate the success outside his native home.
“I had no idea really what the demand is for me. It’s not like I measure it or I ask. I always underplay it,” he said. “At that time three years ago I remember thinking, ‘I’d really love to do this around the world.’ And my agent in L.A. goes, ‘I’d leave it in Australia, dude.’”
But then came The Greatest Showman — a game changer for Jackman’s music career. The 2017 film was a box-office powerhouse, but so was — and still is — its soundtrack: The album has reached multi-platinum status and is one of the year’s top albums, matching the success of any major rap, pop or rock album. It came in fourth on Billboard’s list of top albums for the year and also made Apple Music’s year-end top 10 list.
“The opportunity to go around the world … I probably wouldn’t have had it if it wasn’t for The Greatest Showman. That tipped me over,” Jackman said.
The Greatest Showman has come a long way: Jackman remembers how the movie only earned $8.6 million in its first week around the time the soundtrack debuted at No. 71 on the Billboard charts.
“When we opened, when I saw I didn’t get an email, normally you’ll get a consolation email from your friends, the studios; it was like crickets, like nothing. That’s how bad it was,” he said. “We worked eight years on it … and I always want to remind people the studio took a big risk on it. It wasn’t cheap.”
Jackman will kick off his tour in Hamburg, Germany, on May 13. He will play two shows at The O2 Arena in London, where the album has had even more success than America: The album has spent 48 of 49 weeks in the Top 10 on the U.K. charts, including 21 weeks at No. 1. And it’s currently No. 4 on the charts, a year after its release.
The North American leg begins June 18 in Houston. Most tickets go on sale Friday; tickets for the MSG shows go on sale Dec. 10.
Jackman hopes to also perform original music on the tour, and he recalls working on an album when he was signed to a record label over a decade ago when he starred in Broadway’s The Boy from Oz, for which he won a Tony in 2004.
“I had a deal at the time and I hated what I did. It had nothing to do with anyone involved, I had amazing people involved, but at that point I didn’t know what I wanted to say,” he said.
“Whether you’re a recording artist or a writer or actor, you’ve got to feel like you have something to say.”
Now, he’s ready.
“I would love to do a couple of original songs. I do have some things I want to say,” he said.