Tony winner Hugh Jackman is in talks to play reformed convict Jean Valjean in a long-awaited film adaptation of the epic musical Les Miserables, according to Variety. Meanwhile, Deadline.com is reporting that Paul Bettany may play Inspector Javert, the officer who devotes his life to tracking Valjean down.
As previously reported, Tom Hooper, the Oscar winning director of The King’s Speech, will helm the project, which is being produced by Working Title films, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner and Cameron Mackintosh. Oscar-nominated screenwriter William Nicholson penned the script based on the Mackintosh-produced play, and production is expected to begin later this year or in 2012.
Jackman earned a Best Actor Tony for his splashy Broadway debut as Peter Allen in The Boy From Oz and more recently took to the Rialto stage opposite Daniel Craig in the play A Steady Rain. His other stage credits include Trevor Nunn's Oklahoma at the National Theatre in London and Australian productions of Sunset Boulevard and Beauty and the Beast. He is also known for his screen roles in films like the X-Men trilogy, Someone Like You, Swordfish, Kate and Leopold, Van Helsing and The Fountain.
Bettany is best known for his screen roles in films like Priest, The Tourist, A Beautiful Mind, The Da Vinci Code, Iron Man, The Young Victoria and Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. He has appeared on the London stage in An Inspector Calls, One More Wasted Year, Stranger's House, Richard III, Romeo and Juliet and Julius Caesar.
Featuring music by Claude-Michel Schonberg, a book by Schonberg and Alain Boubil and lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer, Les Miserables made its stage debut in London in 1985. The musical opened on Broadway in March 1987 and played for 6,680 performances before closing in 2003. A revival opened in October 2006, playing 463 performances before closing in 2008.
Based on the novel by Victor Hugo, the story of reformed 19th century Frenchman Jean Valjean and his struggle against police officer Javert during the background of France's student revolution was adapted into a non-musical feature film in 1998 starring Liam Neeson as Valjean, Tony winner and The King's Speech star Geoffrey Rush as Javert, Claire Danes as Valjean's adopted daughter Cosette and Uma Thurman as her mother, Fantine.