Sam Humphrey on the Biggest Lesson Hugh Jackman Taught Him on 'Greatest Showman' (Exclusive)

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20TH CENTURY FOX

Sam Humphrey, who stars in The Greatest Showman as Tom Thumb/Charles Stratton, was never supposed to be an actor. In fact, doctors didn’t even think the 23-year-old would make it past his 18th birthday.  

Humphrey suffers from acrodysplasia, a form of skeletal-dysplasia that left him with flat head syndrome, hearing impairment, mental deficiency and short stature, among other things.

“l had to deal with so many things that were due to being diagnosed with acrodysplasia, like my health, identity, self-esteem and my confidence,” Humphrey tells ET. “Due to struggling with these negative thoughts, short stature, very little self-esteem and false confidence, I was feeling very hopeless and depressed. I thought to myself, ‘What’s the point to this if I’m mostly going to die in a few years when I’m around 18?’”

20TH CENTURY FOX

Despite all of this, Humphrey still wanted to make it in Hollywood, inspired in part by his Greatest Showman co-star, Hugh Jackman, whom he calls his “childhood hero” and an inspiration of 15 years. “No one ever really told me I wasn’t going to be successful in Hollywood. It was more that some people were being fake in their support,” he explains, adding that he would tell those people they’d see him on the big screen one day.

His dreams came true when he received an email saying the studio had approved him for the role and he would soon be getting an official offer.

“Booking The Greatest Showman felt like a dream that I was gonna wake from at any moment,” he says. “I was completely stunned for a few minutes, thinking, 'Whoa, did I really just book a studio movie with 20th Century Fox?'"

Soon, the role and his character became increasingly significant to him.

“As we were filming, the role became very empowering to me because of the transformation from Charles Stratton into Tom Thumb, which parallels my own transformation. I was Charles, but transformed into Tom Thumb,” he says. “I feel my character was meant for me. I loved my role as both Charles Stratton and Tom Thumb, but definitely, enjoy playing the role Tom Thumb more. I had so much fun on set and was nicknamed ‘The General’ and everyone was saluting me. My costume was so amazing and made me feel like the real General Napoleon. I had a sword and guns. I was living the dream.”

His dream got even better as he became close to Jackman.

“Hugh became my amazing friend and is such a great mentor to me. I can always reach out to him and get his advice when I really need it. I know he genuinely cares about my success and well-being. He gives the best advice he can give, and if he doesn’t know something, he will reach out to people he knows to ask advice to help me,” Humphrey shares. “Hugh has put his name behind me as a friend and mentor. I think of Hugh as my acting dad. I genuinely love him as a friend, he has the biggest heart and is so down to earth. I want to follow in his footsteps.”

Jackman has also given Humphrey, who says as long as he’s working he’ll be happy, some crucial advice to making it in Hollywood.

“The best advice Hugh has given me is ‘hustle, hustle, hustle,'" Humphrey says. "Every day you need to be working to get that next job, take as many meeting as you can, do as many auditions as you can get and just grind until you get that next paycheck and do it all over again.”

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