Tom Hooper, fresh off winning the Oscar for The King’s Speech is turning his eye to one of the great musicals yet unadapted to the screen: Les Miserables. The show is a tough adaptation because this is a musical that needs SINGERS, not talkers, like Tim Burton’s weak sauce version of Sweeny Todd. And the reality is that there are not many movie stars who can actually, really sing.
Hugh Jackman is one of those, and so it makes sense that he’s in talk for the lead role of Jean Valjean in the film. Whether you’re familiar with the show, Victor Hugo’s original book or the non-singing adaptation from a decade ago (starring Liam Neeson and Geoffrey Rush), you’ll know that Jean Valjean is the man thrown in prison for stealing bread to feed his sister’s starving children; he spends years on the lam, hunted by the wicked Inspector Javert.
With Jackman in the lead that could mean Hooper would be able to fill other roles with singers who aren’t necessarily names. Anne Hathaway certainly semi-auditioned for him while onstage hosting the Oscars this year, but I’m not entirely sure what other big names would be appropriate. Especially for the role of Eponine, who has the biggest song in the whole show, the immortal On My Own. Could Lea Salonga - who played Eponine and Fantine on Broadway - be Fantine? Would Hooper cast an Asian actress in that role? She’s certainly good enough.
This is kind of exciting for me because I just won tickets to the new 25th anniversary show of Les Miserables, which is playing here in LA now. I’ve never seen the show live before, so I’m psyched. Maybe some of these LA cast members can end up in the running…