We recently got to attend a press screening for the upcoming musical epic, Les Misérables, and it was an uplifting emotional rollercoaster that easily made us appreciate everything we have and start counting how many nomination it would receive come awards season. The next day we got to sit in on the press junket with the cast and director, Tom Hooper, to get the inside scoop on how all the pieces of the beloved tale came together. Here are some of our favorite moments with the stars:
Tom Hooper on fans’ expectations of the film adaptation from the musical: I felt very aware that so many people hold this close to their heart and probably sit in the cinema in great fear that we would harm this experience. So, I wanted to pay a lot of attention to why it was so successful. And the thing that really struck me – I went five or six times during the production – I heard people behind me going, “This is the eleventh time I’ve come, this is the fifteenth time I’ve come.” I think, in the end, people keep coming back because it promises the opportunity to experience strong emotions. And if anything, it gets more and more intense each time. So I think the central DNA I have to protect, it’s emotional DNA. I had to work out why were people so moved and try to offer them a more intense emotional experience than the one that happened on the stage. And I felt the great weapon was the close-up — it’s the one thing on stage that you can’t enjoy is the detail, what’s going on in the people’s faces when they’re singing songs, you have to imagine that. I could put the camera right next to our characters, and you get a much more immediate and visceral connection with them.
Anne Hathaway on researching her role of Fantine: I tried to get inside the reality of her story, as it exists in our world. And to do that, I read a lot of articles and watched a lot of documentaries and news clips about sexual slavery. There was a piece where a woman — she was blacked out because she didn’t want her identity revealed — and she sat there and she kept repeating, “I come from a good family. I come from a good family. We lost everything. And I had children. So now, I do this.” And then she — she doesn’t want to do this, but it’s the only way her children are going to eat — and then she let out this sob that I’ve never heard before, and she just raised her hand to her forehead, and it was the most despairing gesture I’ve ever seen. I don’t think this woman would have gone to, that Fantine wouldn’t have gone to, if she didn’t have children to support.
Eddie Redmayne on recovering from all the emotion throughout filming: Sacha Baron Cohen. It’s this wonderful thing. It was such a rigorous shooting process and fueled by passion, but, my God, there were hard days. And the way Tom likes to work is he likes to create real scenarios. So Sam was sitting in freezing rain; Hugh was carrying me through disgusting sewer stuff — not chocolate milkshake — but there was this wonderful thing where about three-quarters of the way in, Helena [Bonham Carter] and Sacha arrived, and it was just this lightness that, my God, we needed!
Hugh Jackman on the origin of the new song from the film, “Suddenly”: What I learned from the book, in particular this novel Valjean experiences two epiphanies. The first epiphany, when he meets the Bishop, he goes from this brutalized condition of being an ex convict where he’s got huge anger against the world. And through that contact with the bishop, he learns virtue and compassion and faith, and then, when he meets little Cosette, he discovers love for the first time. Here’s this guy who’s never been loved or loved, who quite suddenly experiences parental love for a child. And it absolutely transforms his life, and he rededicates his life all based around the duty of caring for this child. And I felt for the musical, the first epiphany is crystal clear. The second transformation is kind of in the subtext. It’s not completely clear. I went to Claude-Michel Schonberg and Alain Boublil, the original creators and [asked] “Can you write me a song that captures what this feeling of love is like?” And they came up with the song.
Samantha Barks on singing in the rain: That kind of realism in your voice has to enter the emotion of that live singing, I think… and especially I think… doing it in the rain, it allows you to be so into it. And we’re crying, but I’m trying to add that to your voice. It’s one thing when you speak and you’re crying and you can hear it in someone’s voice, and I think to be able to hear that when someone sings, I think that only adds to the emotion of it.
Amanda Seyfriend on the lyric “To love another person is to see the face of God”: It’s the most profound thing I think that you could ever hear someone say; for it to be sung, it’s just that much more powerful. It’s what we’re left with at the end. And that’s why I think this has been such a phenomenon for so many years because the theme, what it’s about really in the end, love. And through Claude-Michel’s music, too; it’s a culmination of everything we’ve watched and we all were kind of were looking for.