“Les Miserables” director Tom Hooper never wavered in his bold decision to have all his actors sing live during shooting. (Most movie musicals have the actors lip-syncing to pre-recorded tracks.)
Instead, Hooper was encouraged by the dedication each of his actors gave to their parts – and their songs.
During the Envelope Screening Series featuring the cast and director of “Les Mis,” Hooper explained the lengths his actors went to for the roles.
Anne Hathaway, who plays Fantine in the musical, trained for six months before they started shooting, mastering the task of hitting the notes while keeping her face relaxed. Eddie Redmayne reinvented his song “Empty Chairs and Empty Tables” from how it had been sung for the past 26 years on stage.
And though it was a challenge, the actors didn’t miss the lack of dialogue in the script.
Amanda Seyfried, who plays Cossette, says the songs she sang were so embedded in her, that she was practically addicted to “Les Mis.”
“I hope this opens a lot of doors for film musicals,” said the actress, who previously starred in the musical “Mamma Mia.” “It’s another level of emoting for actors. It’s super-satisfying.”
Meanwhile, Hathaway and Hugh Jackman, who plays Jean Valjean, took extreme measures to transform their physical appearances for their parts as struggling 19th-century French citizens.
Jackman said he stopped drinking liquids for 36 hours to achieve his gaunt look as a slave in the opening scene of the film. But it came with a cost: extreme crankiness. “Even Russell (Crowe) was scared of me,” he quipped.
Hathaway lost a great deal of weight in a very short amount of time. “I thought she was a part that deserved everything,” she said.
For Hooper, his actors’ physical transformations only aided in his goal of steeping his soaring musical in gritty reality.
“The extreme physical changes helped ground the singing, helping the leap we are asking the audience to make,” he said. ‘LES MISERABLES’ Not reviewed yet
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Amanda Seyfried, Anne Hathaway, Eddie Redmayne, Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen
Director: Tom Hooper
Running time: 2:39
Rated: PG-13; suggestive and sexual material, violence, thematic elements