You haven’t seen it because it hasn’t been released widely just yet (December 20), but The Greatest Showman on Earth has already been nominated for three Golden Globes, including Best Motion Picture. That’s probably because of the hard work of the film’s stars, including Zendaya, who plays Anne, a trapeze artist and acrobat for P.T. Barnum’s (played by Hugh Jackman) Ringling Bros. and Barnum Bailey Circus. She may not have received a solo actress nomination (just yet), but Zendaya put in some of the most work for her role. In a new interview with Jimmy Fallon, she talked about having to actually do trapeze training and build upper-body strength to swing around the set, and it was no joke. But don’t ask her to bust out the moves she was doing months ago, because she admits that she hasn’t maintained that muscle strength.
“Our director [Michael Gracey], he called and said, ‘Listen, we want to workshop this like a real Broadway production,’” she told Fallon. “I said ‘Cool, that’s great!’ Then he’s like, ‘Also, you might want to start working out because you have trapeze rehearsals when you get here and I want to use the stunt double as little as possible.”
Zendaya was a tad freaked out but still game for the training.
“So as soon as I got there I started building up upper-body strength, which I don’t have and have not maintained either,” she continued. “So don’t ask me to do any trapeze when you see me because I don’t have it anymore [laughs]. It was a different time. It was a lot of training. A lot of just getting up there and going for it.”
But Zendaya says that just when she felt very comfortable doing trapeze with her net, she got to set and there was no net, and the rig used to throw her around was much taller than what she had trained with. She was not here for it — until her co-star gave her the extra boost of confidence necessary to do the dramatic moves you’ve probably seen in the trailer and will see once the movie comes out.
“I had been rehearsing on this specific rig that I was used to. I had become normal with that height difference, and there was a net. I felt good and comfortable, and I had been doing it for a while. I was like, ‘OK, cool. I’m a trapeze artist! This is great!’” she said. “I show up on set…And yeah, the rig was 15 to 20 feet taller and there was no net, because back in the day, they didn’t have those yet. So I was hooked up, so I’m safe, but visually—that’s a lot to get over you know? Right as I was going to go up in the cherry picker, Hugh Jackman walked by and he goes, ‘Zendaya, you’re a bada–.’ I was like, ‘…Take me up! Hugh Jackman called me a bada–!”
The Greatest Showman on Earth comes to theaters in wide release on December 20. Until then, check out her interview with Fallon and see a trapeze moment gone left between she and co-star Zac Efron.