Stars of original Les Miserables get an encore as they join the cast of new big screen remake
The original stars of the stage version of musical Les Miserables will join Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe in the big-screen version, which begins rehearsals on Monday.
Colm Wilkinson, who was the first Jean Valjean, and Frances Ruffelle, who created the part of Eponine, have been given feature roles in the movie.
Wilkinson will play the Bishop of Digne. ‘He shows Valjean the road ahead, after Valjean has robbed him of silver candlesticks,’ says Cameron Mackintosh, who produced the musical on stage and who is also involved with Working Title and Universal in making the picture, which Oscar-winner Tom Hooper will direct.
Les Miserables hits the big screen: Russell Crowe and Hugh Jackman will appear in the movie adaptation of the hit theatre show
‘“I have bought your soul for God!” the bishop says to Valjean — and it’s a beautiful moment,’ Cameron told me.
Wilkinson, who played Valjean in London and on Broadway, said that as he takes on the role of the bishop, his journey with Les Miserables has ended ‘and I have come full circle’.
Cameron also revealed that Ruffelle will play ‘the most fabulous whore’ in the movie, and while she won’t have a song of her own, she will be part of the group of prostitutes who sing the number Lovely Ladies.
Some 27 years after Les Miserables was first staged at the Barbican, the show is still running — now at the Queens in the West End.
Cameron noted that Alan Parker was going to direct a movie of it 23 years ago but, for various reasons, it didn’t work out.
‘The gods have made the timing right, in that we now have the perfect Jean Valjean in Hugh, and the whole feeling about musicals has changed,’ he told me.
The way they were: Frances Ruffelle (right) and Colm Wilkinson (left) with the show's producer Cameron Mackintosh in the middle
Hooper has already spent three weeks working with Jackman on his characterisation.
The director will be in Los Angeles for this weekend’s Director’s Guild awards before heading back to London to take charge of rehearsals at Pinewood studios next week, where he will work with his cast for seven weeks.
Russell Crowe, playing Inspector Javert, will also be arriving next week, along with Anne Hathaway (Fantine), Eddie Redmayne (Marius), Amanda Seyfried (Cosette) and Aaron Tveit (Enjolras).
Other key roles are still in negotiation.
The stage show had 28 actors playing a variety of roles, but the film, Cameron told me, will have scores of parts for West End performers.
‘It’s the same as when the musical Oliver! was being made and dozens — probably hundreds — of people from London stage shows took part,’ Cameron said.
Filming of the script by William Nicholson, Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg will be done at Pinewood, with some scenes shot on location in the UK. There’s also talk of some filming being done in France.
Members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences have shied away from Shame — and I say: Shame on them!
I think Steve McQueen’s movie — starring Michael Fassbender as a sex addict trying to keep his secret from his friends and sister (played by Carey Mulligan) — is one of the best, most provocative movies to hit the screen in a long time.
The films up for Oscars this year are tame by comparison. It’s as though Academy voters are afraid of anything that smacks of danger.
No nomination Shame starring Michael Fassbender as Brandon and Carey Mulligan as Sissy
What’s happened to the organisation that, once upon a time, went for pictures such as Midnight Cowboy
They also ignored Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive and its star, Ryan Gosling.
And what about the ferocious performance by Tilda Swinton in We Need To Talk About Kevin Or Charlize Theron in Young Adult Or Elizabeth Olsen in Martha Marcy Mary Marlene Or Felicity Jones in Like Crazy
Then there’s Olivia Colman’s stunning portrait of a middle-class woman whose self-esteem has been beaten out of her in Tyrannosaur
And to shut out Shailene Woodley, who plays George Clooney’s daughter in The Descendants, which opens in the UK today, is perverse.
Also, I can’t fathom why the Academy ignored Steven Spielberg’s direction of War Horse.
I hate to say it, but I think the voters of the Baftas and the Oscars have become lazy.
Several friends in Los Angeles, who are members, have admitted they skipped watching a lot of movies because they weren’t suitable for ‘family viewing’.
Well, if they can’t attend screenings, they should resign their memberships and let people who have the time, and the dedication, take their place.
It’s just shameful.
Rupert Friend will star in the stage version of Dennis Potter’s controversial Seventies play Brimstone And Treacle.
The film version was banned from BBC TV, although I got to see it many years ago, with Sting as Martin, a handsome but strange young man who turns up at the home of a couple who live with their daughter, who’s in a coma.
The woman is sexually assaulted by Martin — the role Rupert will play — which prompts a host of fascinating consequences.
I once talked to Potter about the piece, and he said Martin was a Devil-like character ‘wrapped up in the face of an angel’.
Mr Friend will be directed by Amelia Sears at the Arcola Theatre Studio 2 in London, with performances from May 2.
Rebecca Hall learned to shimmy for some lap-dancing scenes in her new film, Lay The Favorite. She plays real-life gambler Beth Raymer, who had a head for figures and a figure to match. ‘She’s a stripper who goes to Las Vegas to work.
‘There’s a way you have to dip and bend, and I had to learn how to do that,’ Rebecca told me.
Lay The Favorite, directed by Stephen Frears, played last weekend at the Sundance Film Festival.