Do You Hear
The Film Stars Sing?

By Erik Waldman 

Two years ago, Kathryn Bigelow shocked the audience when she announced Tom Hooper as winner of the Best Director Oscar for The King’s Speech over David Fincher for the Social Network. Not long after, the world received another shocking announcement about Mr. Hooper. Producer Cameron Mackintosh announced that Hooper would helm the film adaptation of the long running musical Les Miserables.

After the announcement, I had to know who would be in the cast? This cast would be in front of the camera singing some of the best music ever written. After Mamma Mia was a letdown (mainly due to the awful choreography and Pierce Brosnan’s woeful singing), I was afraid to see another film adaptation of a famous West End/Broadway musical. When I heard about Les Miserables, I was immediately interested because it’s one of my favorite shows ever.

Every time a new cast member joined this production, I gained even more interest to see the final version in December.

Hugh Jackman


Jean Valjean

After I found out Jackman was to play Valjean, I was immediately excited to see the film. For the first time Hugh Jackman will share his true talents on the big screen. Originally, I only knew him as Wolverine. When I watched Jackman host the 2009 Oscars, I was left in shock at the end of his opening number. I did not know how talented he was. I started clapping when while sitting on my sofa. He can dance, play multiple instruments and, of course, sing. This man has got some pipes.

Second, Jackman has a history performing on stage. One of his most famous stage roles was Curly in “Oklahoma!” He also played singer/songwriter Peter Allen in “The Boy From Oz.” His list of stage credits is huge. Most recently, Jackman performed a successful one-man show with songs from his entire stage career.

Now Jackman has a chance to spread his amazing talent to the world without a tuxedo. He will be wonderful as Jean Valjean. Expect early awards talk for Jackman when this film enters cinemas.

Anne Hathaway


Fantine

Anne Hathaway was another shocker at the 2009 Oscars when she demonstrated her singing talent in a short duet with Hugh Jackman. Two years later, she hosted the Oscars with James Franco. At one point during the show, she sang ‘On My Own’ from Les Miserables to Jackman because Jackman refused to sing with her again.

When Jackman was cast in the film he suggested Hathaway for Fantine. Hathaway reportedly blew everyone away at her audition, leaving the casting directors in tears. I sure hope her audition song was ‘I Dream a Dream.’ Hathaway has a shot to prove she can do more than Disney movies. She first showed her depth when she was nominated for an Oscar for her role as drug addict Kym in Rachel Getting Married. That’s only the beginning.

Hathaway has a history in choir, but she lacks Jackman's stage experience. After the two Oscar shows she briefly sang in, her vocal abilities are apparent. She’s got an operatic soprano voice and the acting talents to play Fantine. Not only can she sing with an operatic style, she can sing like a Broadway star. She has the talent to belt those high notes.

This summer, she’s playing Selina Kyle/Catwoman in The Dark Knight Rises. In December, we will see her play Fantine in Les Miserables. With any luck Anne Hathaway will prove herself a versatile actress in her next two films.

Russell Crowe


Inspector Javert


Can Maximus sing? I was edgy about Russell Crowe's casting, because I have heard him sing and he doesn’t have the range to pull off the challenging baritone villain.

Producer Cameron Mackintosh believes Crowe “is perfect for the role.” That doesn’t entirely exceed my expectations for Crowe. Crowe had to audition for the role, twice. His audtion was probably his first in a while. That does exceed my expectations a bit.

Apparently, Crowe had a career in musical theatre before he started his film career. I did find a video of him online performing as Eddie and Dr. Scott in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. In the video, Crowe sang on different octaves.

Crowe's range as an actor throughout his film career means he might be able to pull off Javert emotionally, but I don’t have my fingers crossed for his singing. Crowe has sang country tunes, and I hope he can also sing in an operatic voice. His history in musical theatre and successful audition may just change my mind.

Eddie Redmayne


Marius Pontmercy

I first heard of Redmayne after I saw him in the minis-eries Pillars of the Earth. Through My Week with Marilyn, Redmayne built a reputation as a very good actor.

After learning he is to play Marius, I was glad they picked him for two reasons. First, he is not Nick Jonas. I saw Nick Jonas perform one of my favorite songs, “Heart Full of Love,” in the show's 25th anniversary concert and he was awful. Can Jonas sing? He can, but he cannot sing like a choral tenor.

I watched a few videos of Redmayne singing and he does have the voice to play Cosette’s love. He sang a solo with the perfect range for Marius. I think Tom Hooper’s film will make Redmayne’s rising star status even greater.

Amanda Seyfried


Cosette

Similar to Hathaway, Pennsylvania native Amanda Seyfried does not have any background in musical theatre. That did not stop her from giving a scene-stealing performance in the film adaptation of Mamma Mia. Can she hit Cosette’s notes? I think she has the talent.

Seyfried has had a bad track record with film decisions lately. Red Riding Hood and Gone have been box office and critical bombs. Les Miserables is probably one of the best choices she’s made in years. Yes, she had to audition for the role. She beat Harry Potter’s Emma Watson, Shailene Woodley (The Descendants), Miranda Cosgrove (iCarly), Emily Marie Palmer, and Portia Doubleday (Youth in Revolt).

I’ve only heard Cosgrove sing and she’s nowhere close to as good as Seyfried. Palmer has a history in musical theatre and had a callback with Amanda Seyfried. Seyfried won the role and I hope she gives a dazzling performance to keep her film career going.

Sacha Baron Cohen


Monsieur Thenardier

I heard Geoffery Rush was considered Thenardier and I would have loved that. Rush is one of the best actors of the past 20 years and the man can do anything! Rush could certainly pull off Thernardier's craziness.

All of the sudden I heard Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat, Ali G) won the role. Like Rush, Cohen is a versatile actor. He was also blessed with a magnificent singing voice. When he auditioned for Tim Burton’s film adaptation of Sweeney Todd, Cohen sang the entire score of Fiddler on the Roof. He won the role of Adolfo Pirelli. Singing “The Contest," Cohen was fantastic.

This man has the background in comedy and singing necessary to pull off Thenardier's edgy and cruel nature. The role requires much more acting than singing - still perfect for Cohen.

Helena Bonham Carter


Madame Thenardier

I am very happy Carter is doing another movie that doesn’t involve her boyfriend Tim Burton. No offense to Mr. Burton; I am a huge fan. I was only wondering if he ever wanted to use any actors besides Johnny Depp and Carter. Doubtful.

After announcing her availability for movies not directed by Burton at the BAFTAs two years ago, Carter moved on to play Thenardier's equally edgy and cruel wife.

She’s played Bellatrix Lestrange in the Harry Potter films, showing how nasty she can be. She sang more challenging songs than Johnny Depp in Sweeney Todd. She can sing.

Her role requires more speaking and acting than singing, which will still work for Carter. She has a long acting history under her belt. Hooper directed Carter to her second Oscar nomination in the King’s Speech. Could Carter pull off another Oscar-nominated performance? If so, she should continue to work with Tom Hooper.

Aaron Tveit


Enjorlas


I had never heard of the young actor Tveit. After some research, I learned he has a long history in musical theatre.

He was part of the show Next to Normal and the lead of Catch Me If You Can: The Musical. He has the pipes to sing with his best friend Marius on camera. He has a small record acting on film, but his acting on stage should be enough for him to pull off the role of the rebellion leader.

Samantha Barks


Eponine


I was most worried about this role's casting, because this character sings one of the most powerful songs ever written, “On My Own.” Many actresses auditioned for this role, including Hayden Panettiere, Scarlett Johannson, Lea Michele, Emily Browning, Lucy Hale and Evan Rachel Wood.

For a few weeks, rumors all over Entertainment News claimed Taylor Swift was offered the role. Negative comments flooded each article, because most did not want to see the teen star play Eponine. Does she have the pipes to sing it? Probably. Does she have the acting experience? No. CSI and the box office flop Valentine’s Day are not enough to perform a part that requires passion, heart and one remarkable singing voice.

Forget the rumors. London stage star Samantha Barks will take on the role of Eponine. The best news is she has played Eponine before and was fantastic in the 25th anniversary concert and the West End show. Cameron Mackintosh turned up at her stage production of Oliver in Manchester to tell Barks she landed the part of Eponine in Tom Hooper’s film adaptation.

Colm Wilkinson And Frances Ruffelle


These two actors may sound unfamiliar, but big fans of Les Miserables should know who they are. Wilkinson originated the role of Jean Valjean in the first West End and Broadway productions of Les Miserables. He was given the role of Bishop of Digne in Hooper’s adaptation. Since he once starred as Jean Valjean, Cameron Mackintosh wanted Wilkinson to play a role in the film as a tribute to the musical theatre production.



Ruffelle was also in the original show. She played Eponine in the original West End and Broadway productions. An extremely talented singer, similar to Wilkinson, she was asked to appear in the film as a tribute. Ruffelle will play a prostitute.

Other Actors


Musical veteran Bertie Carvel (Matilda the Musical, which I recently saw and it was fantastic) will play Bamatabois. Killian Donnelly (played Enjolras in recent West End productions of Les Miserables) will play Combeferre. Fra Free will play Courfeyrac. Alistair Brammer will play Jean Prouvaire. Daniel Huttleshone will play Gavorche. All these actors have history in musical theatre.

Fade Out

Tom Hooper, Cameron Mackintosh and the casting directors have made wise choices in the performers. This is a very big cast of well-known film actors and an ensemble packed with musical theatre veterans.

Honestly, the film might be a hit or a miss. Once I’ve heard the leading actors singing their biggest songs, such as Anne Hathaway ("I Dreamed a Dream"), Russell Crowe ("Stars"), Cohen and Carter ("Master of the House"), and Redmayne and Seyfried ("Heart Full of Love"), then I will see if this film has any promise. I’ve heard Jackman and Barks sing their songs, so at least they will be great.

I do wonder how Hooper will execute the big musical numbers such as Look Down, One Day More, Do You Hear The People Sing and, of course, the Finale. I have a feeling this cast can pull it off, but I will withold judgment until I see the film.

Les Miserables enters cinemas 14th December, 2012.

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About The Author

Erik Waldman My name is Erik Waldman. I am a Film/Media Arts major at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Currently, I am a junior studying abroad at Foundation International Education (FIE) in Kensington.

On June 6th, 1991 I was born to Howard and Lisa Waldman in Abington, Pennsylvania. The first film I saw was The Lion King in 1994, and I have loved going to the movies ever since. Even though I was three years old, I remember having a great time watching the movie.

I attended Holland Elementary, Holland Middle School and graduated from Council Rock High School South in 2009. During my senior year at high school I took a filmmaking class and immediately fell in love with making movies. I wrote and directed two short films and I created three short commercials for an assignment. Also during my senior year I participated with the school’s choir in a tour across England and I loved every minute.

When it was time to apply for college, I wanted to go to a college that was close to home, because I love being close to my family. I wanted to major in filmmaking because I wanted to learn more about the process than I learned in one semester in high school. Temple University was my top choice because I am the fourth generation in my family to attend, the school is well known for its film program and it has a study abroad program.

After two and half years attending Temple, I love the school and its film program, because the professors know exactly what they’re talking about and making the movies has been a blast. I’ve loved writing and directing five short films since my freshman year at Temple.

I applied for study abroad in London after my sophomore year ended because I wanted a new experience to cherish for the rest of my life and to return to England. I was happy to learn I was able to apply for an internship during my stay in England.

I applied to Raindance Film Festival, because Raindance has an amazing history of screening famous directors’ films, such as those of my favourite filmmaker, Christopher Nolan, and they have film classes I would love to attend to learn something I have not yet learned at Temple. A film festival is a great place to start meeting people who in the film business and it’s an amazing experience to write about on a resume.

Since January 5th, England has been fantastic. I’ve been exploring London a lot since my arrival and I’m picking up the culture a lot faster than I thought I would. I’ve walked around Hyde Park, Piccadilly Circus, Westminster, Bath, Stonehenge and more. I know there’s a lot more to look forward to, including a football match I’m attending on St. Patrick’s Day, Greenwich, the London Eye, my trip to Dublin, and possibly attending some concerts while I’m here. I feel very happy being in the United Kingdom and I can’t wait to see what else it has to offer. 

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Do You Hear The Film Stars Sing?