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MANILA, Philippines- The musical production Les Miserables, an adaptation of Victor Hugo’s classic novel of the same title, first gained serious buzz in the Philippines when Lea Salonga was cast as Eponine, a love-struck street urchin who sings one of the most memorable songs in the musical.
But with the coming release of the much anticipated Hollywood version, star-studded to the teeth with Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, Russell Crowe, Helena Bonham-Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen among the cast, that buzz is already getting louder.
Set in 19th century France, the story revolves around Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman), a man imprisoned for stealing bread, who breaks his parole and is pursued by police Inspector Javert (Russell Crowe). As Valjean flees, he meets characters who begin to change his unforgiving notion of the world and who drive him to create a new life of integrity.
Years later, Valjean is a respected, self-made man. Yet Javert continues to hunt him down and threatens to ruin not only the life Valjean has built for himself, but the life he has built for all the people he has come to love.
The film is directed by Tom Hooper who can already boast of an Oscar for directing The King’s Speech. Those who await the film can expect the intense emotion that drives both book and musical to bleed just as intensely through the film which makes use of close-ups to bring each character’s internal turmoil to the fore.
Hooper also insisted on the actors singing live while shooting instead of the usual practice of pre-recording then lip-synching during takes. This was done to make the singing more natural, to bring out the little imperfections in live singing that ultimately make the characters’ emotions more real and felt.
With all the singing practices and character internalization, it’s no surprise that some of the actors dream of playing other parts in the musical.
Actors in other Les Mis roles
In an article for the L.A. Times, writer Nicole Sperling quotes Amanda Seyfried saying in jest during the film’s Envelope Screening, “I’m just so sick of my part.”
Seyfried plays the grown-up Cosette, daughter of Fantine who is eventually adopted by Jean Valjean.
She not-so-secretly dreams of playing Fantine which is why she put Fantine’s song “I Dreamed a Dream” in her karaoke machine and sang it in her bedroom.
But she admitted to Anne Hathaway who plays Fantine in the film, “It wasn’t as good as yours.”
Years before landing the iconic role of Jean Valjean, Jackman sang Javert’s song for an audition for Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.” He was rejected for the role and was told by the casting director, “You can put that [song] away. You’ll never be singing that.”
Hathaway, who is receiving rave reviews for her performance in the film, shared, “We all read the novel before we started and it became a touchstone for all of us. The music is the poetry of Victor Hugo’s novel.”
You can start watching Les Miserables in Philippine cinemas beginning Jan 16, 2013. - Rappler.com