Les Miz fans have been waiting for years – years! – to see the musical come to the big screen. I am no exception – I first saw Les Miserables at the Imperial Theatre on Broadway when I was in high school. We went on a field trip to see it, and it was so moving and engaging, even the metalheads and punk guys in my class dug it. They all bought the soundtrack and would start reciting parts of it at random times (the Javert/Valjean confrontation was a particular favorite – and is apparently also a favorite of Neil Patrick Harris and Jason Segal and OK Go). As for me, I am not a huge musical theater person, but I fell in love with Les Miz because it wasn’t your typical goofy musical. Like Phantom of the Opera, it’s more like a modern day opera and tells a beautiful tale of redemption. I owned both the Broadway soundtrack and the Complete Symphonic Recording, and there was a point in my life I could recite all three hours of the musical by heart. I have no doubt I am but one of many, many fans who can do that.
Now that we are finally getting our beloved musical on the big screen, I’m naturally getting a little nervous about the execution. Let’s face it; Hollywood is consistently good at two things – blowing shit up and destroying adaptations. Just seeing the word “adaptation” makes me break out in hives. The worst-case scenario for me is if they killed a big chunk of the musical aspect of Les Miz. Due to staging, I understand they have to make a few changes. Because people love the Epic CGI Battle where a shitload of people/animals/manimals run down two hills to collide and get shot with arrows and knocked off of horses and shit in a grand orgy of violence, I am truly cringing at what the French Revolution battle scene could look like. I’ll deal with it. Hollywood, I know you need your Tolkein Fight Scene in every movie with a battle (Get it? Ha! …erm…sorry….). Fine. But if the libretto and key songs are significantly changed or removed? Your Les Miz Frankenzombie is dead to me. Unless you actually make it a zombie adaptation, because I’m not sure I can resist that.
At any rate, I’d like to share my thoughts on some of the casting:
Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean: As the cast started to get leaked/unveiled to the world, I found myself thinking, “I love all of these actors, but for this? I don’t know…I hope it works…” I love Hugh Jackman. Who doesn’t? My friends, I saw that damned Van Helsing movie – in the theater – just for him (to the movie’s credit, it’s still better than X-Men 3, which I also sat in a theater for). But is he Jean Valjean? Can he sing “2-4-6-0-Ooooonnnne!!!!” at the end of “Who am I?” Or the sweet falsetto of “Bring Him Home?” Then I came across this on YouTube. He’s totally Jean Valjean! Now? I can’t wait.
Russell Crowe as Javert: I have never seen a Russell Crowe movie I didn’t like (although I wasn’t a huge fan of Gladiator – as you can guess by my assessment of the Tolkein Fight Scenes above, it’s not my cup of tea), and I think he’s a fine actor. For the acting piece of the movie, he’s going to own the shit out of Javert – I have no doubt of this. I haven’t heard him sing this style of music, so I don’t know what to expect. That said, Crowe has been tweeting awesomeness under a #lesmis hashtag, and it appears he is really, really digging the role. This has me kind of excited and reassured.
Anne Hathaway as Fantine: I love Anne Hathaway, to the point where I am intrigued by her playing Catwoman in the upcoming Batman movie. For this however? Ehhh… I don’t know. Fantine pre-French Whore was beautiful and had an enchanting smile, so Anne certainly fits that description, but the one screenshot I’ve seen of her from the movie isn’t working for me, and it has nothing to do with her personally. She looks more like she’d be in an alt-folk act touring in 90s-era Lilith Fair than a destitute prostitute. Overall, the picture is confusing to me – by the time she sold her hair (for 10 francs – it pays a debt, 10 francs may save my poor Coseeetttte!) and saw Valjean again, she was already sick from TB. Here she’s looking pretty healthy and not quite grotesque. I dunno. At the same time, it’s a musical; how many people break into song right before they die from TB?? You need to suspend a little disbelief. She does have a lovely singing voice, so we’ll see, I guess.
Amanda Seyfried as Cosette: I will admit right now – I know who she is, but I have never seen anything she has been in, so I have no idea if she can act or has the voice for Cosette. I personally would have liked to see Emmy Rossum in this role (who was great in Phantom), but I’m open to it. Honestly, in the musical, Cosette is the most boring of the leads, so I’m pretty indifferent.
Samantha Barks as Eponine: I am so delighted they chose one of the best Eponines from the musical’s run to play this role. If you haven’t heard her, Barks will bring you to tears when she sings “On My Own.” She’s awesome.
Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter as the Thenardiers: Hell, hell yes to this. I really don’t know what else to say other than this is particularly great casting and I’m eagerly awaiting to see them be simultaneously hilarious and repulsive in their respective roles.
Eddie Redmayne as Marius: I know nothing about this actor other than he has a great voice for the role (based on my YouTube research). I just want to point out that if this was made even 7-10 years ago, My Celebrity Boo James Marsden would have made the best Marius. He’s handsome, and his voice reminds me of Michael Ball, who received the Kanye Award for Best Marius Pontmercy of ALL TIME. Even 10 years ago, Marsden would have been technically too old to play Marius, but he looks much younger than he actually is and I would have loved to see it. Of course, this would have resulted in me standing up in the middle of the theater during “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” calling out to the screen, “I LOVE YOU JAMES MARSDEN!! YOU CAN SIT AT MY TABLE ANY TIME!!” Which would not only ruin one of the most dramatic moments in the movie, it would unleash the worst innuendo ever into the world. And I’d get kicked out.
…While we’re on this topic, can we make an X-Men: The Musical happen, so I can get Hugh Jackman and James Marsden singing together onscreen? Sure, the fanboys would hate it, but still? Better than X-Men 3.
Going back to Les Miz, Redmayne’s voice is killer for the part. If they do Les Miz right and it’s a hit, I have a feeling teenage girls will swoon for him after all of this. I feel really old saying that…
Les Miz fans? Let me know what you’re thinking about the movie or the cast below in the comments.
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