Hugh Jackman on Russell Crowe, ‘Les Miz’ costarsBy Ruben V. Nepales
Philippine Daily Inquirer
LOS ANGELES—As promised, we continue our report on our “Les Miserables” (the much-awaited film adaptation of the stage musical) set visit last May. This time, we are featuring excerpts from our interview with Hugh Jackman:
Hugh, in full costume as Jean Valjean, talked to us during a shooting break at UK’s Pinewood studios. Russell Crowe (Javert), Anne Hathaway (Fantine) and Amanda Seyfried (Cosette) also star in the musical, directed by Tom Hooper and produced by Cameron Mackintosh, based on Victor Hugo’s novel.
Hugh described the scene that we were about to watch: “Today’s the barricade scene, so we’re in the midst of the revolution. The students are there amid the barricade, and my character disguises himself as a soldier to sneak past them and comes in as a volunteer to get behind. What he’s really doing is he’s coming to find Marius, because he’s intercepted a letter from Marius to Cosette, my daughter, declaring his love, and it says, ‘Now, I know you love me, too.’ So, this is where I finally meet the boy and I get embroiled in this fight.”
We heard Hugh sing live (the cast performs the songs live, which sets this movie musical apart) in take after take of this scene, so that tune lingered in our mind for days.
Not only did Hugh sing live on the first day of the shoot; he crooned in freezing temperature in the Alps. He said, “We started in the Alps, which was fantastic, because we were in an area in France that the book is set in.
“Literally, there was no acting required. You can see the steam, you can hear the cold in my voice as I’m singing. The brilliance, the guts of Cameron, Tom and of everyone to decide to have the songs sung live right through gives the songs immediacy—we discovered that on the very first day.”
On singing with his fellow Aussie, Russell Crowe, Hugh remarked, “Remember, we had seven weeks of rehearsal. You can’t turn up at a musical and just hope to do it.”
“I can’t imagine anyone other than Russell playing Javert,” Hugh said. “He brings such weight and strength. There’s an effortless presence about Russell that commands attention, which is great for Javert.
“Russell’s a great actor. I’ve always believed great actors make other actors look good. I can tell you from acting with him that it feels as easy a job as I’ve ever had, because he’s so present and connected.”
Hugh said that he’s been friends with Russell for a long time. He revealed, “Privately, he’ll never tell you, but he’s been very helpful to me on a few occasions, ‘Wolverine’ being one of them. He was offered that part, and he suggested me to Bryan (Singer, director).
“I’ve also rang him a few times on life and career choices. I asked his advice, and he has always been helpful.”
Hugh stressed that Russell is musically inclined. “He’s a brilliant guitarist, so he can back anyone up. On one of the first nights he was here, he rang up at nine in the evening. He goes, ‘Do you want to have a bit of a sing?’ I was like ‘Oh yeah!’ So, we went to his place and started singing.”
Hugh was equally effusive in his praise of his female co-stars, including Samantha Barks. He recounted, “I walked on the set as Samantha was doing the last take of the big song, ‘On My Own.’ The applause on that set was so massive from everybody. They’d been standing in the rain for five hours. It gave me the chills. This movie is going to launch Samantha in a massive way.”
Of Anne Hathaway, Hugh said, “I’ve sung with Anne at the Oscars. Annie has been singing since she was 8 years old. If she weren’t a movie star, she would have done Broadway now for at least 10 years. She is the real deal. When she turned up at rehearsal, I knew that Annie could sing. She’s extraordinary!
“Amanda (Seyfried) is also fantastic in this,” Hugh added. “And the little girl who plays the young Cosette—oh my God, your heart will break for Izzie (Isabelle Allen)! She’s never been in a film before.”
E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at http://twitter.com/nepalesruben.
Recent Stories:Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.