TYF contributor, Shane A. Bassett, interviewed the cast and director of Les Misérables on the red carpet at the Sydney, Australian premiere.
Four sleeps till Christmas, a very warm and windy day on the red carpet in the middle of Pitt Street Mall, Sydney Australia, did not stop the crowds gathering for the Les Misérables Australian Premiere.
Australian stars and self-proclaimed great mates, Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe, were walking the ruby rug together. Dressed sharp in black suits, while being jovial and giving the fans plenty of waves inbetween interviews, they arrived to see me and shake hands. After a couple of G’days, I asked as much as I could within my brief time limit.
Shane A. Bassett (S.A.B.) – May I ask about the collaboration between Tom Hooper and you both, tell me a little bit about that relationship.
Hugh Jackman (H.J.) – Tom was upfront from the get-go to sing live from the very beginning, from my audition actually, to bring a whole cast to do just that.
Russell Crowe (R.C.) – Yes, and it’s a very easy thing to say, “Oh by the way, we are going to sing every take live.” But I don’t think anyone really believed him; it sounded insane. Filming a song, you may have 9 different actors, lens changes, set movements; so you do the mathematics, then work out how many takes that multiplies to, then you go in the next day, and you want me to do it all over again. It was massive but after the first couple of days we realized Tom was dead serious.
H.J. – We had a long 8 or 9 week period of rehearsals, and everyone was there singing every day, practicing, connecting, perfecting. I mean, you can shoot a feature film in 9 weeks, so it was unusual, that was really systematic of his commitment for the film. He went exploring with the actors to try and make it a great ensemble, then try and actually do something that had never been done before.
R.C. – The basic rule he gave us was to have stamina! We did voice exercises every day, sang everyday either individually or with groups. Extensive but also genius, by the time we started shooting, we all had a rock and roll profile, where we could drop everything and sing for 12 hours.
S.A.B – At the beginning, did you think this was a movie you each wanted to participate in?
H.J. – A project like this comes once in a lifetime; it’s one of the greatest challenges for both of us in our entire careers, you agree? (looks at Russell, nodding)
S.A.B – A Globe nomination, and there’s talk of an Oscar. Russell, you are a past recipient, do you think it can happen for Hugh?
R.C. – What he deserves and what comes his way may not match up the way it should.
S.A.B – It’s not every day you have a Manly fan and a Rabbitohs fan working together in harmony, like you two.
**(Hugh supports ‘Manly Sea Eagles’ Rugby League team, Russell was a part owner and still a big fan of ‘South Sydney Rabbitohs’ (Rabbits) Rugby League team)
R.C. / H.J. – (Both laughing) That’s right. Don’t worry, it came up a number of times.
H.J. – By the way, one of my first days on set I walked out, and the entire crew were wearing Rabbitohs hats, and I looked at Russell. He got me.
S.A.B – Did singing and acting at the same time while in period costume push the intensity up of your performance than any regular role?
H.J. – Of course, it makes you live it.
R.C. – It kind of purifies it, the funny thing that happens when you sing is that it gives a kind of attachment to your soul. Sometimes with acting, you can play it up with accents and other kinds of trickery, but with this, you really had to build yourself up to the emotional levels. I think that was the key to success.
H.J. – There was no easy day on set, you must deliver. That song you have just sung may be the last time you ever perform it.
R.C. – Everyday demands everything we had to give, something we won’t forget.
S.A.B – Any idea of when your next collaboration with Director Ridley Scott may be?
R.C. – I only spoke to him on the phone yesterday actually.
S.A.B – So, a possible new project in the works?
R.C. – (smiling, nodding) We’ll see.
Then, along came DIRECTOR TOM HOOPER, Oscar winner for The King’s Speech.
S.A.B. – Hello Tom, great pleasure to meet you. Now, you have picked a lot of Australians to be in your cast over two movies, any other local talent you might like to work with that you haven’t yet?
Tom Hooper (T.H.) – The secret is I am half Australian, my mother was born in Adelaide, so I have a total bias towards casting great Australians, and I think probably only I would have thought to cast Guy Pearce as King Edward the 8th, and I love Geoffrey Rush. I love Australian ethics; I can’t believe I am the first person to get Russell and Hugh together in a film, what a thrill having these two magnificent Australian towering talents at the top of their game.
S.A.B. – Any future projects on the radar?
T.H. – No, nothing planned really as this film consumed every waking hour from me over two and a half years; I have not read a script, I have not read a book, I literally have no idea what’s up next.
S.A.B. – The reaction it is getting from audiences who have seen it already is amazing; you must be very happy about that, it must be making you feel good.
T.H. – The London premiere and the New York premiere had the audience stand up and applaud thirteen or fourteen times during the film, I’ve never seen anything like it nor has anyone else. It is great others like it, it’s probably a once in a lifetime thing so I have to keep reminding myself that it’s actually happening.
S.A.B. – Did you have to push for Anne Hathaway or was she one of the top selections for the role of Fantine?
T.H. – It was a very contested role, a scary list of movie stars came up for that part, but she came up with a distinct way of acting and made it her own. Ascendency in the part was all her.
S.A.B. – I would like to see you work with Hilary Swank again (Red Dust was an early film by Tom starring Hilary – great movie!)
T.H. – Yes, I am glad you liked that film, I loved working with Hilary, and she is another extraordinary performer.
Unrelated to Les Mis, but Oscar nominee for Animal Kingdom, JACKIE WEAVER, walked the red carpet, and I briefly asked her about her latest film, Silver Linings Playbook.
S.A.B. – Hello Jackie, great to see you again. Tell me what it was like in bed with Robert DeNiro?
Jackie Weaver (J.W.) – It was pretty good, but there was a big film crew all around us in the room.
S.A.B. – He didn’t try any Alvin Purple tricks on you (Alvin Purple is a sex comedy that Jackie did when she was younger.)
J.W. – Oh, get out of it! (laughing)
S.A.B. – Jennifer Lawrence is about the same age you were when first breaking out as a big star, what is she like to work with?
J.W. – A wonderful actress and a brilliant young woman, I think she is going to be enormous. She is already what am I saying.
And with that, I left the red carpet media area and headed home. For the record, I have seen the movie and can’t recommend it enough. I was mesmerized the entire time. Amanda Seyfried is also grand.
Les Misérables hits theaters Tuesday, December 25th. Check out what movies from the cast of Les Mis that you can’t miss!
Shane A. Bassett is a contributor for TheYoungFolks.com. Read more about him on our Partners & Contributors page.