Sam Humphrey behind the scenes of The Greatest Showman. Picture: Instagram
Sam Humphrey behind the scenes of The Greatest Showman. Picture: Instagram

Movie debut for 127cm actor

TODAY, Sam Humphrey is starring in one of the year's biggest movies along with household names Hugh Jackman and Zac Efron.

But most moviegoers don't know just how much he had to overcome to get there.

The Melbourne-based actor, who plays General Tom Thumb in The Greatest Showman, was born with a rare genetic disorder called acrodysplasia, which causes a slew of issues with bone growth, mental development and immune system abnormalities.

He was also diagnosed with the inflammatory bowel condition Crohn's disease as a child, and has spent a lifetime visiting hospitals and doctors' offices for operations and tests.

At just 127cm tall, Mr Humphrey is the size of a eight-year-old, and during his adolescence he struggled with self esteem and severe mental health issues in addition to his physical ailments.

One of the biggest challenges for the 23-year-old actor was being told in childhood he was unlikely to survive past his 18th birthday, and at times the pressure overcame him.

Sam Humphrey with Hugh Jackman
Sam Humphrey with Hugh Jackman

Mr Humphrey said he had attempted suicide several times.

"Due to when I was young doctors saying they don't know what my future holds and that it was unlikely I would live past my 18th birthday, I was feeling very hopeless and depressed," he said.

"I thought to myself, 'What's the point to this if I'm going to die in a few years? Why put it off?' ... I tried to kill myself a few times but the thought of what it would do to my family and friends was too much and ultimately I just couldn't bring myself to end my life.

"But I was struggling with these negative thoughts, [my] short stature, very little self-esteem and false confidence ... I was dealing with a lot of negative thoughts in mind such as 'you'll never measure up to others', 'no one will ever truly love you', 'you're not going to achieve anything because you're too short'."

But thanks to support from his family, his faith and his resilience, Mr Humphrey was determined to overcome his challenges and pursue his dream of becoming an actor.

Last year, he scored a role as finance guru James Udagawa on Neighbours, and just months later, a talent agent read an article in the news about his story.

As a result, the young actor was offered an audition for the role of General Tom Thumb in The Greatest Showman.

He nailed the audition, and not only did he land the role, he also found himself acting alongside his lifelong hero and fellow Aussie Hugh Jackman as well as Zac Efron, Michelle Williams and Zendaya.

The New Zealand-born actor told breaking into the profession had been "a dream come true".

"Honestly, at that moment when I received the email saying 'Good news, the studio has approved Sam for the role of Tom Thumb', I was stunned for a few minutes. It felt like a dream that I was going to wake from at any moment," he said.

Meeting Hugh Jackman was also another surreal moment.

"When I discovered that Hugh - who is [now] my amazing friend and mentor - was playing the lead I freaked out a bit. It was my chance meet my literal childhood hero and to act alongside him," he said.

"There was no better person I could have had to guide me on the big screen. I learnt so much just by being opposite him."

Mr Humphrey has previously appeared in the documentary Being Me, which explores the challenges young people with disabilities face in achieving their goals.

He's also played Puck in a Melbourne stage production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, as well as appearing in the new short film Jeremy The Dud alongside Nick Boshier from Bondi Hipsters.

Mr Humphrey said acting was a natural fit for him.

"I have always loved to be the centre of attention, which not many people enjoy. Loving being in the spotlight and genuinely not wanting to do anything other than acting ultimately gave me the drive to pursue acting as a full-time career," he said.

Mr Humphrey's brother, app millionaire Josiah Humphrey, recently took to LinkedIn to pay tribute to his sibling's strength and talent.

"I am so proud of you Sam Humphrey," he wrote.

"You made your 'disadvantage' into your entire reason for fulfilling your dream.

"We can all learn something from Sam ... The lesson? With determination, your greatest weakness can become your greatest strength."

If you or someone you know needs help, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14, or visit the Lifeline and Beyond Blue website. For crisis assistance, call 000.

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