Les Misérables Cast
: Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Eddie Redmayne, Aaron Tveit, Samantha Barks, Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron CohenDirector
: Tom HooperGenre
: Drama, Musical, RomanceRated
: PGRunning Time
: 157 minutesSynopsis
: Les Misérables is the motion-picture adaptation of the global stage sensation seen by more than 60 million people in 42 countries and in 21 languages around the globe that is still breaking box-office records everywhere in its 28th year.
Set against the backdrop of 19th-century France, Les Misérables tells an enthralling story of broken dreams and unrequited love, passion, sacrifice and redemption-a timeless testament to the endurance of the human spirit. Jackman plays ex-prisoner Jean Valjean, hunted for decades by the ruthless policeman Javert (Crowe) after he breaks parole. When Valjean agrees to care for factory worker Fantine's (Hathaway) young daughter, Cosette, their lives change forever.
With its story's bands of the disenfranchised joining together to challenge corruption and demand change, Victor Hugo's 150-year-old tale that inspired the world's longest-running musical has never been timelier. Now, Les Misérables brings its power to the big screen in Hooper's sweeping and spectacular interpretation of this classic epic. With international superstars and beloved songs-including "I Dreamed a Dream," "Bring Him Home," "One Day More" and "On My Own"-the show of shows is reborn as the cinematic musical experience of a lifetime.Les Misérables
: December 26th, 2012www.lesmiserablesfilm.com
About the ProductionFilm Synopsis and Musical Numbers
1815, Toulon/Digne: After 19 years on the chain gang ("Look Down"), Jean Valjean (Hug Jackman)-prisoner 24601-is released by Javert (Russell Crowe), the officer in charge of the convict workforce. As Valjean struggles to make his way from Toulon to Digne ("Freedom Is Mine") in search of food, lodging and work, he discovers he is an outcast, shunned by everyone. Only Bishop Myriel of Digne (Colm Wilkinson, who originated the role of Valjean in London and on Broadway) treats him kindly, but Valjean, embittered by years of hardship, repays him by stealing the church's silver candlesticks. Valjean is soon caught and returned, but is astonished when the bishop denies the theft to the police to save him. Henceforth, Valjean decides to start his life anew ("What Have I Done?").
1823, Montreuil-sur-Mer: Eight years have passed, and Valjean, having broken his parole and vanished, has used the money made from selling the bishop's silver to reinvent himself as Monsieur Madeleine-a respected town mayor and factory owner. One of his workers, Fantine (Anne Hathaway), has a secret illegitimate child named Cosette to whose guardians she must send every franc she earns. The other women have discovered this, and when they think Fantine is behaving above her station by refuffing the factory foreman because of his advances, they demand her dismissal ("At the End of the Day"). She is thrown out without mercy. Fantine pleads with Valjean to help her, but his attention is elsewhere.
Javert, now the inspector of police, has appeared at the factory to see Madeleine. Although Javert thinks they may have met before, Valjean quickly informs him he is mistaken. They are interrupted by a crash from outside, and they hurry out. There, Javert watches in amazement as Valjean lifts a cart, which has toppled onto a driver named Fauchelevent (Stephen Tate, a London stage Thénardier for several years). The extraordinary show of strength reminds Javert of the convict Valjean, but he is not confident enough to say so.
Desperate for money to pay for her daughter's medicine, Fantine goes to the red-light district ("Lovely Ladies"), where she sells her beloved locket, her hair and her teeth, then joins the whores in selling herself ("I Dreamed a Dream"). Utterly degraded, she gets into a fight with a violent customer and is about to be arrested by Javert when the mayor arrives and demands she be taken to the hospital instead. Fantine tells Valjean that she was thrown out by his foreman, that Valjean did nothing to help her, and that her daughter is close to dying. Stunned, he promises to go to the inn in Montfermeil, where her daughter is living, and reunite her with her mother.
Later, Javert hears that the convict Valjean-whom he has been hunting for eight years-has been recaptured, and he goes to see Madeleine to apologise for his suspicions. Valjean conceals his shock and hurries home, preparing to leave before the mistake is discovered. Unable to see an innocent man go to prison, Valjean bursts into the courtroom to confess that he is in the fact the real Valjean, prisoner 24601 ("Who Am I?"). Valjean then goes to the hospital, where he promises the dying Fantine that he will find and raise Cosette as his own ("Take My Hand"). Just as Fantine dies, Javert arrives to arrest Valjean. The two men fight ("The Confrontation"), but Valjean manages to escape.
In Montfermeil, Young Cosette (newcomer Isabelle Allen) has been living ("Castle on a Cloud") with Monsieur and Madame Thénardier (Baron Cohen and Bonham Carter), who horribly abuse her while spoiling their own daughter, young Éponine (newcomer Natalya Wallace). Keepers of an inn, they run a bawdy business, where they frequently pick the pockets of their customers ("Master of the House"). Valjean finds Cosette freezing in the woods by the inn and takes her back to her guardians, whereupon he pays the Thénardiers to let him take her away to Paris ("The Bargain").
Just after Valjean and Cosette leave, Javert arrives, cursing the fact that Valjean has eluded him once more. As they make their way to Paris, Valjean is overwhelmed by the love he has for Cosette ("Suddenly," written for the screen), but there is no time for him to indulge in his paternal feelings. Javert is hot on their heels, and when they arrive in Paris, Valjean and Cosette seek sanctuary in a convent. They find it when they run straight into the very man whom Valjean rescued from certain death, Fauchelevent. That night, Javert pledges to the sleeping city that he will hunt Valjean until he is back behind bars ("Stars").
1832, Paris: Nine years later, the unrest in the city has been simmering because of the imminent death of the popular leader General Lamarque, the only man in government who has shown sympathy for the poor citizens who are dying in the streets. We follow the indomitable street urchin Gavroche (Daniel Huttlestone, West End production of Les Misérables) as he jumps from coach to coach, literally dancing over the heads of the elite ("Look Down"), and a group of politically minded students led by Marius (Redmayne) and Enjolras (Tveit) as they gather in the streets. Enjolras rallies the crowd for support, and a pretty young street girl, the now-grown Éponine (Barks), gazes longingly at Marius, clearly and desperately in love with him.
Later the same day, a street gang led by M. and Mme. Thénardier sets upon Valjean and a beautiful young woman, the grown Cosette (Seyfried), who are giving alms to the beggars. Marius catches sight of Cosette, and he cannot take his eyes off her. It is simply love at first sight. Just then, Javert arrives and breaks up the brawl but fails to recognise Valjean until the former prisoner has vanished. For her part, Éponine reluctantly agrees to help Marius find Cosette, for whom he only has eyes.
As news of Lamarque's death spreads throughout Paris, the students gather again to rally support for a revolution ("Red and Black"). However, Marius is distracted by thoughts of Cosette, as is Cosette of Marius ("In My Life"). Éponine guides Marius to Cosette ("In My Life"/"A Heart Full of Love"), while her scurrilous father tries to rob Valjean's house. Valjean, convinced it is Javert who has come after him, tells Cosette they must flee the country. Cosette hastily scribbles a letter to Marius so that he will know where to find her. She sees Éponine and asks her to give the note to Marius. Éponine takes the letter and walks despondently through the lonely streets of Paris ("On My Own"), arriving at the apartment where Marius lives. Heartbroken, she keeps the letter but tells him that Cosette has gone to England.
Set to the ensemble song "One Day More," we follow the many threads of the story: Valjean and Cosette as they flee, while Marius pines for Cosette and Éponine grieves for a love she'll never know; Enjolras and the students prepare ammunition for the uprising, while Javert rouses his forces and promises to suppress it. Marius leads the students to the streets, and bolstered by the crowd, they ambush Lamarque's funeral ("Do You Hear the People Sing?") and make their call for the people to rise up. A soldier lets off a round of ammunition, and the funeral explodes into a riot. The students break away and race off to their home base, where they prepare to build a barricade and to make their final stand. Disguised as a boy, Éponine decides to rejoin Marius there, and Javert, who has been operating undercover throughout the funeral, also arrives at the growing barricade. Gavroche soon unmasks Javert's true identity, and the spy is taken hostage by the students.
The barricade continues to grow, and the revolutionaries defy the warning by soldiers to give up. Éponine is killed while protecting Marius ("A Little Fall of Rain"), but she just manages to give him Cosette's note before she dies. Marius asks Gavroche to take a letter to Cosette, which is intercepted by Valjean. He understands now that Marius and Cosette have fallen in love, and knowing that the students won't stand a chance, he goes in search of Marius. Valjean gains entry to the barricade and soon sees Javert held captive. Warning the students of snipers and proving his allegiance, Valjean asks Enjolras to release Javert into his custody. Valjean is given the chance to kill Javert but shows him the mercy denied himself. The students settle down for a long night on the barricade ("Drink With Me"), and in the deadly quiet, Valjean prays to God to spare Marius ("Bring Him Home").
The next day, as Gavroche volunteers to go for more ammunition ("Little People"), the little boy is killed by a soldier. The rebels now face a bombardment by the army, and in the onslaught, Marius is shot. Valjean carries the unconscious Marius away from the carnage, escaping into the sewers. Enjolras and the few remaining rebels are killed. Javert walks through the bodies, grimly surveying the victory of law over rebellion, but the official does not find Valjean until he sees a drain has been lifted
Valjean pulls Marius through the sewers, and after he meets Thénardier robbing the corpses of the rebels, he emerges from the gutter only to find Javert waiting for him once more. Valjean pleads for time to deliver Marius to the hospital, but Javert threatens to kill him if he attempts to escape. Valjean continues to walk on, but Javert cannot pull the trigger. Javert lets Valjean go, but unable to live knowing that his immutable principles of justice have been broken, he leaps from a bridge to his death.
Marius, unaware of the identity of his rescuer, awakes from the nightmare in his grandfather Gillenormand's (Patrick Godfrey, The Remains of the Day) home. Still weak, Marius returns to the café where the students plotted their uprising and grieves for his comrades who died for the cause ("Empty Chairs at Empty Tables"). As he turns to leave, he finds Cosette awaiting him. Back at his grandfather's house, Marius recovers in Cosette's care and goes to Valjean to hear his rescuer's confession of his past. Knowing that he must flee so as not to disgrace Cosette in case he is caught ("Who Am I?"), Valjean makes Marius swear that Cosette will never know of his true history.
Marius and Cosette are married, and at the wedding banquet, the Thénardiers try to blackmail Marius in exchange for their silence on Valjean's identity. However, when Marius sees that the ring Thénardier stole that night in the sewer is his own, Marius understands that it was Valjean who rescued him. He fells Thénardier with a blow, and the Thénardiers are thrown out singing in protest as they go ("Beggars at the Feast"). Cosette joins Marius as they rush to the convent so she may learn her true history. They stay with Valjean as he dies, joined by the ghost of Fantine and the bishop ("Take My Hand").
Many years later, the people of Paris have risen in their thousands, and a new Republic is born. An immense barricade is populated by thousands of people ("Do You Hear the People Sing?"). We see amongst them the ghosts of Enjolras and the students, Gavroche and Éponine, Fantine and Valjean-all singing together in triumph.
About the ProductionFight. Dream. Hope. Love.
From Novel to Stage to Screen
The story of the musical Les Misérables began in 1978, when French composers Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg started work on a musical adaptation of Victor Hugo's opus. It was inspired during Boublil's visit to London when, while watching producer Cameron Mackintosh's 1997 revival of Oliver!-though Mackintosh had no idea of this at the time-Boublil realized the character of the Artful Dodger reminded him of Gavroche, the young street urchin allied with the revolutionary students in Hugo's story. The seed of "Les Misérables" as a stage musical was sown, and Boublil and Schönberg's concept album was released in 1980 and sold 260,000 copies. In September of that year, French director Robert Hossein staged their work in a show seen by more than 500,000 people at the Palais des Sports in Paris.
It was some two years later that a Hungarian director named Peter Farago took the concept album to Mackintosh to see if he might consider staging Les Misérables as an English-language musical. Mackintosh at once realised this was something very special and tracked down Boublil and Schönberg. Though Mackintosh didn't speak fluent French, he was entranced. The producer explains: "The music was so phenomenal in its storytelling. I got through only four tracks on the album, and I was so excited I knew I wanted to produce the show."
Mackintosh wanted Boublil and Schönberg to remain a key part of the process, and he put together a brilliant creative team with Trevor Nunn and John Caird as directors and with James Fenton as lyricist. Fenton was later replaced by Herbert Kretzmer, but he is still credited for giving the show some of its shape and form.
The rest is theater history.
Les Misérables originally opened in London at the Barbican Theatre on October 8, 1985, transferred to the Palace Theatre on December 4, 1985, and after 19 years moved to its current home at the Queen's Theatre on April 3, 2004. When Les Misérables celebrated its 21st London birthday on October 8, 2006, it became the world's longest-running musical, surpassing the record previously held by Cats on London's West End. In January 2010, the West End production broke another record by celebrating its historic 10,000th performance. Seen by more than 60 million people worldwide in 42 countries and in 21 languages, Les Misérables has grown to become undisputedly one of the world's most popular musicals ever, with new productions continually opening around the globe.
Explaining the phenomenon, Mackintosh reflects: "'Les Misérables' is one of the greatest social novels ever written. Hugo created characters and wrote of situations both timeless and universal. When you add to that the power of Claude-Michel Schönberg's score, the brilliance of Alain Boublil's original French lyrics, and the fantastic, timeless style of Herbert Kretzmer's writing, the success of the show can be easily understood."
Over the years, Cameron Mackintosh had been approached by multiple filmmakers to translate the show into a film. In fact, the movie rights had once been sold 25 years ago, after the show opened to huge acclaim on Broadway, but the option lapsed and the rights reverted to Cameron Mackintosh. The producer would wait, ultimately choosing to work with the U.K.'s most prolific and esteemed production company, Working Title Films. For their part, producers Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner had been interested in producing a musical for some time, but it was a social encounter between Fellner and Nicholas Allott, the managing director of Cameron Mackintosh Ltd., that triggered their interest in Les Misérables. Soon after, Bevan and Fellner met with Mackintosh, and conversations about a film adaptation of Les Misérables began in earnest.
"It was a daunting task," provides Eric Fellner, "to turn arguably the theater's greatest musical into a musical for the big screen. But with it came a privilege that we were inheriting greatly loved material and the opportunity to work alongside the people who had created the show."
Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner and Cameron Mackintosh all agreed that it was crucial to keep the core group who had achieved such success with the stage musical at the heart of the project. From the beginning, Boublil, Schönberg, Cameron Mackintosh and Kretzmer remained very much involved in the process.
Until a director was chosen, the producers didn't know how much of the original team would be part of the process. It was decided, however, that a screenwriter should be brought in to adapt their work for the screen. Soon after the filmmakers' initial meeting, William Nicholson was charged with the task of penning the screenplay. Debra Hayward, former head of film at Working Title Films, who reunited with the company to produce Les Misérables alongside Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner and Cameron Mackintosh, explains the rationale: "We instinctively knew Bill was the right person. We had worked with him a number of times, so we knew his work intimately. As well as being a great dramatist, he has a great understanding of music."
William Nicholson, a two-time Academy Award® nominee for his work on Gladiator and Shadowlands, had previously partnered with Working Title Films on the epic period piece Elizabeth: The Golden Age. Says William Nicholson: "I came along with screen expertise to take the stage musical and nudge it into a cinematic one. It's been a fascinating job because I had seen the show many times and absolutely loved it. The theater experience is so powerful and driven by the music, whereas film is more naturalistic, forcing the question of realism and credibility. It was my job to strengthen the plotlines."
Cameron Mackintosh had a clear mandate from the start: He didn't want to put the show on film; he wanted it to have a life of its own. Expounds Eric Fellner: "Our job was to validate its existence and lead an audience to want to see it, but to retain the core of what this show is-absolutely at the heart of every single frame of the film. We hoped we could maintain what Cameron Mackintosh describes as the 'DNA of what the show is' and why it appeals to so many people throughout the world."
Fittingly, the stars were aligned during the search for a director. Except in this case, the director, Tom Hooper, sought out the project even before the astonishing global success of his Academy Award®-winning The King's Speech was generally released. When Tom Hooper heard that William Nicholson, with whom he was working on another project, was also crafting an adaptation of Les Misérables, he felt ready to tackle it. The director says: "A light bulb went off in my head. I thought it a really interesting idea." Tom Hooper had not seen the show but knew the music well and was intrigued by the period in which it was set. He wasted no time in going to see the musical. "I saw it on a very hot day in August. There were those three or four moments where the nerves in my spine were set on fire, and it was extraordinarily emotional. I was struck by how unbelievably addictive the melodies were. Having seen it once, I could not get them out of my head. Claude-Michel Schonberg had tapped into something very deep with the melodies, their patterns, the structures and the motifs."
Around that time, Tom Hooper met with Debra Hayward, who was still Working Title Films' head of production. "It was one of those great serendipitous moments that Tom came to see us just at the time William Nicholson had delivered the script," she says. "He read it, loved it and knew he wanted to do it."
Agrees Eric Fellner: "Tom Hooper was our first choice. He was the only director to whom we ever gave the screenplay, and from the moment he signed on, it has been a thrilling ride. He is passionate, obsessive in the detail, incredibly hard-working and deeply committed."
Tom Hooper reflects that he was drawn to the material on many levels: "One of the things that was so exciting about doing The King's Speech was the emotion it provoked in audiences around the world. It made me very much want to make my next film with a subject that would provoke even stronger emotions." Moved to tears while reading William Nicholson's script on a flight from London to Los Angeles, Tom Hooper knew that he had found his next film. "With the combination of how the musical made me feel and the effect the screenplay had on me, I thought there was an amazing opportunity to work in a very emotional way. I was drawn to the combination of this extraordinary story and the transcendence and pull of the music."
In spite of the powerful material they were inheriting, the filmmakers needed to go back to the story's original source to fill in some of the gaps that appear seamless on the stage but would not be invisible on the screen. Says Debra Hayward: "The book has been a great inspiration for Tom. It was a deceptively difficult adaptation, and whenever we encountered problems, we went back to the book and the answers were there. Bringing in some of the great story elements to fill the gaps without affecting the overall architecture and integrity of the score has been one of the most enjoyable challenges as we embarked upon the adaptation."
Tom Hooper concurs: "It's a colossal and masterful work, and it was a great joy to have an excuse to read it and go back to it in adapting the material. The musical has been interpreted in a unique way for film. It's something Cameron Mackintosh, Claude-Michel Schonberg and Alain Boubil all empowered me to do from the beginning. They didn't just want a filmed musical; they wanted me to reinterpret it to make it work for film. That's one of the things that has been so exciting. Claude-Michel Schonberg's music is so brilliant and Alain Boubil and Herbie's lyrics so strong that they have allowed for that interpretation. There is tremendous elasticity in the work, and like all great literature, the language allows you to play with the meaning and the pace."
The first draft of the screenplay that William Nicholson wrote was divided into dialogue interspersed with songs. Shares Tom Hooper: "All the new story material that William Nicholas had come up with and the story material I wanted to add from the book, William Nicholson wrote in the form of spoken dialogue. Yet, the musical itself is through-sung. After a great deal of thought and reflection, I decided that I wanted to honor the musical's through-sung form. I wanted to create an alternate reality on film where people communicate through song. So at that point, we welcomed the musical's original creative team-Claude Michel Schönberg, Alain Boublil and Herbie Kretzmer-into the process of creating the screenplay as we asked them to write entirely new lyrics and create a new musical structure and a new song ["Suddenly"] inspired by the spoken dialogue William Nicholas had written. It was a hugely exciting moment where we re-created the original conditions of the musical's creation in order to interpret it newly on film."
There was another major attraction for Tom Hooper when he considered a filmic adaptation of a fully through-sung musical. He explains: "I wanted to take a risk and do something very different in a different genre. From the beginning, what excited me was the idea of doing it live. I don't think I would have done it if it turned out not to be possible to direct the film live, because no matter how good the synchronisation is of actors singing to playback, an audience can tell that there's something unreal about it. It doesn't feel connected to what is going on the screen."
With Tom Hooper's passionate assurance that the actors would sing live, Cameron Mackintosh had no doubts that they'd discovered the right director for the job. He comments: "The only way you can make this music work is by capturing it in the moment. That was one of the first things Tom Hooper said when he gave me the reasons why he wanted to do this. Plus, he loved the Les Misérables of it. With most of the other directors I've talked to over the years, they'd say, 'I know how to do this song or that song; what I don't know how to do is have Les Misérables sing.' But that is what Victor Hugo's novel is about; it's about all of us, not just the story of Jean Valjean and Javert. I knew the moment Tom Hooper had grasped that, that this actually was the person who was going to find his own way of making the story and actually putting us all to work." The Perfect Storm of Actors:
Casting the Musical Epic
The filmmakers set out to find what Hooper often refers to as "the perfect storm of actors." Elaborates Fellner: "We needed three things from our cast: star power, gifted actors and accomplished singers, and we were blessed to hit a moment in time where that group of actors exists. The cast that we see in the film is pretty much everyone we originally went after."
Central to the story is the relationship between Jean Valjean and Inspector Javert, which is more complex than the typical hero versus villain scenario. Released on parole after serving a 19-year sentence for a petty crime, Valjean is branded an outcast and shunned wherever he goes. Two decades of hard labor have turned him into a man who hates the world, and most significantly, hates himself. An act of mercy from a bishop, whom he meets when he is first released from prison, sets him on the path to redemption. Still, Valjean will spend his life running from Javert, a dedicated and righteous police inspector who relentlessly pursues him. "It's a particularly muscular story," reflects Debra Hayward. "The clash between these two men through time is the engine that drives the whole film." Accurately casting these two central characters was vital to the success of the endeavor.
Both Cameron Mackintosh and Tom Hooper required the entire cast to audition, the director sat with Hugh Jackman approximately nine months before the film was to start principal photography. Of the meeting, Tom Hooper exclaims: "It was the most thrilling audition I've ever done. Hugh Jackman's command of acting through the medium of song is completely extraordinary. He can access an emotional life in himself through song almost more profoundly than through conventional dialogue. He is so fluent and so comfortable when he sings that one completely believes it's his first choice of communication. He was the holy grail for me, a genius at both acting and singing."
An incredibly charismatic performer of stage and screen, the Tony Award- and Emmy Award-winning Hugh Jackman had wanted to do a movie musical for some time. The Australian actor shares Tom Hooper's memory of his audition: "It lasted three hours. It was Tom Hooper's first working session with the material, and it turned into a workshop. It was undoubtedly the most exhilarating audition of my life, but I eventually had to tell Tom Hooper I needed to go home and put my kids to bed."
Already a fan of the show, Hugh Jackman had seen Les Misérables three times and had in fact sung "Stars" during one of his first auditions just out of drama school. "Valjean is one of the greatest literary characters of all time," he notes. "You follow him for a 20-year span, having been released on parole as an ex-convict, to becoming mayor of a town, to becoming an outcast again. Throughout that time, you see all the ups and downs, the pain and the ecstasy that life brings. He is incredibly human, remarkably stoic and powerful and, ultimately, completely inspiring. His life is truly epic."
Drawn as well to the universal themes of redemption that Hugo's story evokes, Hugh Jackman says: "Valjean is the recipient of one of the most beautiful and touching moments of grace from the bishop and, in the shame of that moment, he decides to mend his ways and dedicate his life and his soul to God and to being of service to the community. He is constantly striving to be a better person, to live up to what he thinks God wants from him."
Known as an action star, Hugh Jackman has endured grueling training regimens to play James Howlett, better known to legions of fans as Logan/Wolverine. Still, discussing the physicality of the part of Valjean, he says: "I've never had a role require more of me or take as much of a physical and emotional commitment. Valjean required everything I've done. All the things I've done leading up to this, whether it be on the stage or in film, I feel came together in this role. It's the role of a lifetime."
Hugh Jackman embraced the physical challenges and the changes required of the character as he goes from convict to outcast to mayor over several years. It was decided to shoot the scenes of the convict Valjean at the start of principal photography to allow High Jackman to not only lose weight, but also to grow his own beard. "It was important to tell the story that he had been in prison for 19 years," notes Hugh Jackman. "I was surviving on very limited food, but Valjean was also known for his strength, so I was spending three hours in the gym. It was a tough beginning." So committed was Jackman to the part, for 36 hours before he shot the opening sequences of the film, the performer also decided to go without water. This gave him the hollowness and gauntness befitting a convict of the era.
As the film's lead, Hugh Jackman would go through war with Tom Hooper and his fellow cast and crew, and the actor admits he can't think of another director with whom he would do so: "Tom Hooper's a perfect match for the material. He's a slave to detail and history, as was Hugo. He's incredibly smart, has a complete grasp of the material and total confidence with the musical form. I think he's a great filmmaker, and he decided to take on the Mount Everest of filmmaking. He's our fearless leader."
Once they had their Valjean, the filmmakers were determined to find a performer powerful enough to act opposite Jackman in the role of Javert. Academy Award®-winning actor Russell Crowe immediately came to mind. He recalls: "I didn't know Russell Crowe was such a commanding singer, or that he had started his career in musical theater. He had this burning passion to do a musical. We could not believe our luck that one of the biggest movie stars on the planet and one of the world's great actors was a passionate musical man with a background in music."
Unlike the majority of his co-stars, Russell Crowe did not see the show until after the filmmakers had approached him, but he understood its longevity right away. "There were so many powerful songs and themes with universal appeal," he says. Very quickly, Russell Crowe became excited about the challenge. "It was something I wanted to do. I wanted to spend that time with music in my life, surrounded by it, which so much of my life has been."
Russell Crowe, like Hugh Jackman, had no problem auditioning for Tom Hooper and the producers, and the call was set two months after his initial meeting with the director. Explains Eric Fellner: "The actors understood auditioning was for their sake as much as ours. We wanted to make sure that they were comfortable singing and acting, and confident they could deliver over a 12-week shoot."
The actor admits he took an unusual approach to the follow-up. Recalls Russell Crowe: "I had this idea on the day of the audition that I should walk there, something I would have done when I was starting out, when the audition was basically the difference between eating and not eating or being able to pay the rent or not. It was 28 blocks from where I was staying and pouring rain. I had the opportunity to jump in a cab, but I knew if I did the audition wouldn't go right." To the astonishment of the producers, Russell Crowe arrived at the audition soaked to the skin. "I don't think I'd been more excited about playing a character since John Nash in A Beautiful Mind."
Key to Russell Crowe's portrayal of the legendary antagonist was fleshing out Javert's motivation for why he doggedly tracks Valjean over the decades...and why he makes the ultimate sacrifice for law and order. Reflects Debra Hayward: "It needed an actor of immense skills to plumb the depths of the character, as Russell Crowe has done, to understand why ultimately this man would take his own life."
Russell Crowe offers some insight into the crucial dilemma Debra Hayward mentions: "Javert is a man with a very specific morality and a specific understanding of the way the world works: what is good and what is evil. When he is proved wrong, when a man he believes to be bad turns out to be good, Javert is broken."
As was true of his Valjean, Tom Hooper's Javert was fully committed to bringing the character to life. "Russell Crowe's preparation for this role has been extraordinary, and he has been such an amazing person to work with," compliments Tom Hooper. "He has such fine intellect and such an extraordinary amount to bring to storytelling, which I have so enjoyed and benefitted from."
Echoing Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe recognises the Herculean challenge Tom Hooper gave himself: "Tom Hooper's put every ounce of his being into this. He worked seven days a week and still managed to keep himself balanced. He's a tough guy; when he wants something, he wants it and he's going to have it, but that's the kind of director you want to work with."
Anne Hathaway's connection with the project began long before the filmmakers approached her to try out for the role of Fantine. When Anne Hathaway was seven years old, Cameron Mackintosh had cast her mother in the U.S. national tour of Les Misérables as a factory girl; she also played Fantine a number of times during her time with the company. Truly, Anne Hathaway had grown up with the music and loved it. Supplies Tom Hooper: "Annie is the female equivalent of Hugh in terms of having that extraordinary facility at knowing how to act through song. And it's not just acting through song. It's acting in close-up through song, the demands of which make it quite different from performing on stage."
The actress was in good company with Hugh Jackman. Anne Hathaway also spent a three-hour audition with Tom Hooper and waited a month before she learned she had the part of perhaps the most tragic of characters in Hugo's story. Forced into prostitution after she is thrown out of the factory, her dissent into utter degradation is heartbreaking. "She just wants love and to be free to love," explains Anne Hathaway, "but the heart she wants to share becomes damaged and disregarded. The depth of Fantine's suffering gives life to the love you experience in the rest of the film."
Anne Hathaway's dedication to the role was by all accounts extraordinary, and her physical journey, as well as the emotional one, was just as intense as Hugh Jackman's. Not only did she choose to have her own hair cut in the scene where Fantine sells her tresses, the already slim actress lost a great deal of weight to make completely believable Fantine's physical decline from, and ultimately her death because of, consumption.
While many musicals have good portions of dialogue, Les Misérables is almost completely through-sung. That would prove an enormous challenge to the cast and crew as production was underway. Anne Hathaway and Tom Hooper discussed that she would be singing live, and she was prepared for the task. "I was supportive of the idea of singing it live," says the performer. "There are musicals that have a certain sensibility to them, where doing it live wouldn't make much of a difference. It's probably easier to have a track and do it that way. But when you have a story this dramatic, where there's no dialogue to see you through-and where everything is so in the moment-it's a lot of pressure to have to sing all the time, but it's still so spontaneous. You're able to keep that and honor that and explore that. It's a risk, but the benefits outweigh the potential cost."
The filmmakers had specific ideas about the talent who should play Cosette and Marius, and in Amanda Seyfried and Eddie Redmayne, the team found their embodiment of the young lovers. "I searched long and hard for my Cosette," sums Tom Hooper. Known to audiences for her portrayal of Sophie, the young bride-to-be trying to find her real father in the global smash hit Mamma Mia!, and more recently for her starring roles in Dear John and Letters to Juliet, Amanda Seyfried delivered astonishing vocals that distinguished her from all others. On Tom Hooper: "Amanda Seyfried has that amazing ability to command both disciplines, and on top of that she is mesmerising on screen."
Amanda Seyfried's exposure to Les Misérables first happened when she encountered the regional tour at age 11 in Philadelphia. Then at 15, she played Cosette at a school recital. "Cosette is the main source of light, hope and love in the story," says the actress. "There's a responsibility to bring this positivity to