Les Mis congeniality
Advance screenings have generated much good buzz. Susan Boyle has made at least one song from the show an internet sensation.
The staging is not all that innovative. But Hooper’s decision to record the performers live does give the piece an impressively gritty feel. There is some proper acting going on here.
Eddie made the decision to audition all on his own. When he heard that Working Title were making the film, he was shooting in the southern United States.
“I was playing a meth addict in North Carolina,” he laughs. “And I heard they were making a film of this. I had never told my agent I enjoyed singing. So, on my iPhone, I recorded a video of myself singing Empty Chairs. I sent it to my agent and, unbeknown to me, he sent it to Eric Fellner from Working Title. If I’d know that was going to happen, I wouldn’t have been dressed as a cowboy. Ha ha!”
The auditions were more than usually rigorous. As Hooper – an Oscar winner for The King’s Speech – was mostly casting actors, rather than stars of musical theatre, he had to be sure they could carry a tune. Eddie remembers arriving at the audition space to be confronted by entertainment royalty.
“Sending in that tape started a process that went on through a lot of meetings with Tom. And the last one really was an X-Factor style audition with Claude-Michel Schönberg, the lyricist, Cameron Mackintosh, the show’s producer and Debra Hayward from Working Title. And more. All of them. The only person missing was Mr S Cowell. But it was very levelling. Because we then knew that everyone had been through that.”
Now, he’s stuck with the nightmare that is awards season. The film is certain to be nominated for best picture at the Oscars (and, in a wildly volatile year, is currently second favourite behind Lincoln). The shadowy cadre of Oscarologists have also decided that Mr Redmayne is sure to be nominated for best supporting actor.
I am sure he’s too well brought up to comment on that. But he must be aware that the awards machine is being constructed around us as we speak. It looms over the picture’s release.
“Hmm? Well, all of us on the cast have a story about how we saw the musical as a kid,” he says. “We all love it. There’s been this expectation for such a long time. Now we just want to let it out into the world. That’s all we want – to let it out into the world.”
Very diplomatically put.
Les Misérables opens on January 11th