Les Misérables

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 survival of the human spirit. Hugh Jackman plays ex-prisoner Jean Valjean, hunted for decades by the ruthless policeman Javert (Russell Crowe) after he breaks parole. When Valjean agrees to care for factory worker Fantine’s (Anne Hathaway) young daughter, Cosette, their lives change forever.

‘Les Misérables’ is the motion-picture adaptation of the beloved global stage sensation – itself an interpretation of Victor Hugo’s epic novel – seen by more than 60 million people in 42 countries and in 21 languages around the globe and still breaking box-office records everywhere in its 27th year. Helmed by Academy Award-winning director Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech), the film also stars Amanda Seyfried as Cosette, Samantha Barks as Eponine, Aaron Tveit as Enjolras, Eddie Redmayne as Marius, Sacha Baron Cohen as Monsieur Thenardierto, and Helena Bonham Carter as Madame Thénardier. ’Les Misérables’ arrives in cinemas from December 25th in the US and January 11th in the UK. My other interviews for ‘Les Misérables’ can be found through the following links: Hugh JackmanAnne HathawayEddie Redmayne and Samantha Barks (more to come).

What do you think it is about this story and these characters that gives it that enduring quality, that makes it so emotive – something that’s been relatable to audiences around the world for over a 100 years?

Amanda Seyfried: I think the themes in it are always relevant. I think we’re all looking for strength and love. We’re all moved by the power of redemption. There’s always social inequity and struggle, there’s always injustice in the penal system and in class systems. We’re always fighting for something we believe in because there’s always something wrong, and unfortunately the themes have always carried on through time. And if we didn’t have sorrow and if we didn’t have tragedy, then why would we keep relating to this, why would we could going back to it? It’s a phenomenon because we do. Everyone is affected by these themes in some way.

Bringing it to the screen, more people have access to it. Maybe for the people who wouldn’t normally go to the theatre, or people that can’t go to the theatre to watch the stage show, it really gives it a chance to catch everybody. It is so powerful and I think in this film adaptation we’ve managed to even colour it in more, give the characters even more intimacy, be more specific with how everyone was feeling at every given moment. I think it’s the best of the book and the stage (laughs), put in one for the entire world to be affected by.

Les Miserables

How do you look at Cosette’s role in this ensemble story?

Amanda Seyfried: Cosette is the main source of light and hope and love – true love – in the story. There’s a responsibility to bring this positivity to the role because it is so tragic in so many ways. It’s a wonderful character to play. She’s so full of life and possibility. And there’s two triangles in Cosette’s life. One, she’s kind of choosing between her father – the only man she’s ever known, the only life she’s ever known – and this new man who’s completely taken her heart over. It’s absolutely true love. She knows with all her heart that this is who she’s going to spend the rest of her life with.

The aspect of singing live in this film, how does that add to the story emotionally for you? I can imagine that was a great challenge when shooting on long days?

Amanda Seyfried: It’s really scary when Tom Hooper says, “Action!” Then music starts playing in your ear from the pianist who’s on set hidden and it’s your turn to sing, and all of sudden you can be like, “Oh my God, I can’t listen to my voice right now.” Or, “Oh shit, I just totally sang that the wrong way,” (laughs). Or, “Man, I wasn’t breathing then.” It was so scary when all you can think about is what you’re doing wrong and not living in the moment, that was something I was really struggling with. But then I was finally able to leave that behind, but it took a really long time. Singing live is amazing though, because your body is reacting to the sounds your making, and the stakes are raised on another level emotionally. For an actor it’s really liberating because it’s a different feeling to than what you’re used to getting. It all becomes one new, exciting experience.

I can imagine it was a very different experience to ‘Mamma Mia!’?

Amanda Seyfried: Definitely. There’s no way to prepare for live singing in film. When I did ‘Mamma Mia!’, we spent two days in the recording studio. We listened to our voices, as much as we could without going insane (laughs), to memorize timing and breath…and so we could lip-sync. On ‘Les Misérables,’ the experience was like living the life of a singer.

I understand ‘Les Misérables’ has been your favourite musical since you were 11….?

Amanda Seyfried: Yeah (laughs). I had been so obsessed with the musical for so long, from when I was a 11. And honestly, you don’t really expect these things to come around. Even when I was promoting ‘Mamma Mia!’ everybody would ask me what my favourite musical was, and I’d always answer ‘Les Misérables.’ It’s pretty spectacular. And now having seen the final product after the months and months and months of work we all put into the film, it was better than I could have ever imagined.

Les Miserables - World Premiere