Forget the cage, 'cause we know how to make the key.

–Phillip Carlyle

Phillip Carlyle is a fictional character from The Greatest Showman. He is bright and becomes P. T. Barnum's partner for the circus. He is 20-years-old and bright, cute, spunky, and sweet. He is portrayed by Zac Efron.



Phillip is a young playwright who lives in misery despite his popularity. He comes from a rich family and is invited to many parties. He is first pictured at the after party of Caroline Barnum’s ballet recital. Phillip was at the recital because he put on the play. Charity Barnum tells P. T. Barnum that Phillip is considered to be a “scandal”. It is unknown whether she was referring to his alcoholism or some other attribute. She also mentions his last play was a hit in London.

Phillip lived a caged and boring life and was a heavy drinker until Barnum recruited him. Barnum lured his young protege away from his class and parents with promises of being able to “finally live a little, finally laugh a little.” He also assures Phillip he will become a free man. Since Phillip joined the circus, he has become more joyful and free. He also became enamored by the trapeze artist, Anne Wheeler, and is constantly trying to make their relationship work even under societal pressures.


The Greatest Showman

Phillip was a popular playwright and comes from a prestigious family. He was first seen during P.T. Barnum's daughter's ballet recital, drinking copious amounts of alcohol while talking with fellow upperclassmen.

Barnum approaches Phillip during one of his plays and invites him for a drink. In the bar, Barnum tries to convince Phillip to join his circus, claiming that Phillip has a flair for show business. The two perform the musical number, 'The Other Side', where Barnum talks Phillip into running away and joining the circus. He continues to reject his offers until Barnum brings up the freedom of living and laughing compared to his typical life full of whiskey and misery. Phillip officially becomes Barnum's junior partner and shares 10% of the income. Upon joining the circus, Phillip is impressed by the different performers and becomes infatuated with Anne Wheeler, a trapeze artist.

Barnum introduces Phillip to W.D. and Anne, where he was further charmed by her.

Phillip snags an opportunity for the circus troupe to meet the Queen of England. When asked by Anne if all of them could go, he responded that it's either all of them go, or none of them go, which impressed Anne. During their visit to Buckingham Palace, he introduces Barnum to the opera singer, Jenny Lind, despite not being acquainted with her in the first place.

After Barnum recruits Jenny Lind, in her concert, Phillip asks Barnum where do they(the circus troupe), watch. Barnum brushes him off and tells him that they should watch somewhere not visible to the crowd. Phillip goes back to his fellow circus members and while listening to Jenny Lind's performance, he is caught in the moment as he locks hands with Anne throughout the performance. Nearing the end of the song, he sees his parents looking at him and discreetly lets go of Anne's hand. Much to her disappointment. Anne leaves a teary-eyed Phillip.

After the party, Phillip wistfully watched Anne perform alongside the rest of the troupe, 'This Is Me', with Anne looking back at Phillip during the performance.

Later on, Phillip questions Barnum's decisions of touring with Jenny Lind, to which Barnum continues to brush off. He converses with Lettie Lutz and Charles Stratton and tells them Barnum is off to tour around the world, to which Lettie tells him to pull himself together.

He shows up to the ticket booth where Anne was and surprises Anne with his appearance. He escorts her to the theatre until his parents see him once again. He introduces Anne to them but his parents offend Anne with their racism and prejudice and she walks away. Phillip confronts his parents then chases after Anne. He follows her to the circus and asks her why she cared so much about what his parents think. The two perform their musical number, 'Rewrite the Stars', expressing their attraction to one another and wondering if they could ever be together despite societal pressures and racism. Phillip optimistically tries to convince Anne while she holds a more realistic temperament and rejects his advances.

After one of the circus performances, the protesters continued to linger and Phillip kindly asks them to leave but is ignored, this escalates into a big fight between the protesters and the performers which ends in the building going up in flames. Upon evacuating, Anne was nowhere to be seen. Phillip ran back into the burning building, thinking Anne is still in there. Anne escapes through the back exit unscathed. Barnum chases after Phillip into the building as the building collapses. The two escape but Phillip is left unconscious with many burns and wounds. He is put in the hospital with Anne constantly watching over him.

After the events of 'From Now On', Phillip wakes up and shares a tender kiss with Anne.

The circus troupe including Phillip rummage through the burned pile and discuss how to continue the circus. Phillip expresses his gratitude to Barnum that despite his loss of inheritance and invitations to numerous parties, he still had friendship and love. With no other way to fund the circus, Phillip entrusts his shared income to Barnum and officially become partners.

During the performance of 'The Greatest Show', Barnum hands over the reins to Phillip, signifying their partnership. Phillip sings and dances alongside everyone else and shares another kiss with Anne at the end of the performance.


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