After more than 25 years in development, a movie adaptation of Les Miserables is finally gearing up to begin production in March 2012. Oscar-winning director Tom Hooper (The King's Speech) has recruited a star-studded ensemble complete with Broadway favorites, Oscar winners and pop superstars. In honor of this exciting screen event (which will feature a script by Tony winner John Logan), Broadway.com has compiled a guide to the characters and stars of Les Miz, including notes on famous stage vets and video clips to help you decide whether the movie's stars have the chops to tackle the musical's iconic score. Les Miserables is scheduled to hit theaters December 7. Get ready to storm the barricades!
Star: Hugh Jackman
Role: Jean Valjean, the long-suffering hero who, after being released from prison, breaks his parole, changes his identity and becomes mayor of a small town.
Signature Songs: “Who Am I?,” “Bring Him Home”
Notable Stage Predecessors: Colm Wilkinson (Original London and Broadway Casts), Alexander Gemignani (2006 Broadway Revival)
Musical Background: Does Jackman even need an introduction? Before slashing up the big screen as Wolverine, he began his career in musical theater in his native Australia. A Tony winner for The Boy From Oz, Jackman recently finished his record-breaking run in Hugh Jackman, Back on Broadway. He has also displayed his impeccable showmanship as host of the Oscars and Tony Awards.
Video Evidence: Jackman performs “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning” during his acclaimed run in London’s National Theatre production of Oklahoma.
Star: Russell Crowe
Role: Javert, the stern, moralistic police inspector who relentlessly pursues Jean Valjean.
Signature Song: “Stars”
Notable Stage Predecessors: Terrence Mann (Original Broadway Cast), Shuler Hensley (Broadway 2000), Norm Lewis (2006 Broadway Revival), Brian Stokes Mitchell (2008 Hollywood Bowl Concert)
Musical Background: The Oscar winner is best known for films like Gladiator, A Beautiful Mind, American Gangster and 3:10 to Yuma, but he had a longtime side gig as lead singer of the Australian rock band 30 Odd Foot of Grunts.
Video Evidence: Crowe sings “Things Have Got to Change,” a song from his band’s 2001 album, Bastard Life or Clarity.
Star: Anne Hathaway
Role: Fantine, an impoverished factory worker who resorts to prostitution to support her daughter, Cosette. When she falls ill, she begs Jean Valjean to care for her little girl.
Signature Songs: “I Dreamed a Dream,” “Come to Me”
Notable Stage Predecessors: Patti LuPone (Original London Cast), Randy Graff (Original Broadway Cast), Laurie Beechman (Broadway 1990), Andrea McArdle (Broadway 1993), Melba Moore (Broadway 1995), Alice Ripley (Broadway 1998), Daphne Rubin-Vega (2006 Broadway Revival)
Musical Background: As a teen, Hathaway honed her craft at New Jersey’s Paper Mill Playhouse in shows like Jane Eyre and Gigi. She starred in the 2002 Encores! production of Carnival and returned to the stage in 2008 in the Central Park production of Twelfth Night. She is also rumored to play Judy Garland in both a stage and screen project.
Video Evidence: Hathaway sings a parody of Les Miz’s “On My Own,” aimed at her future film co-star Hugh Jackman, while hosting the 2011 Academy Awards.
Star: Taylor Swift
Role: Eponine, daughter of the Thenardiers, a spunky waif who's forced to watch her secret crush, strapping soldier Marius, romance Cosette.
Signature Songs: “On My Own,” “Little Fall of Rain”
Notable Stage Predecessors: Frances Ruffelle (Tony winner in Original Broadway Cast), Debbie Gibson (Broadway 1992), Lea Salonga (Broadway 1992), Kerry Butler (Broadway 1998), Celia Keenan-Bolger (2006 Broadway Revival), Lea Michele (2008 Hollywood Bowl Concert)
Musical Background: A four-time Grammy winner known for country pop hits like “Love Story,” “The Story of Us” and “Our Song,” Swift made her film debut in 2010’s Valentine’s Day and provides vocals in the upcoming animated film The Lorax. She briefly tipped her hat to Broadway in the music video for her catchy song “Mean.”
Video Evidence: Swift performs an updated rendition of West Side Story’s “Tonight” in a commercial for the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards.
Star: Amanda Seyfried
Role: Cosette, Fantine's daughter, who is rescued from the abusive Thenardiers by Jean Valjean and blossoms into a beautiful young woman, courted by Marius.
Signature Songs: “A Heart Full of Love”
Notable Stage Predecessors: Judy Kuhn (Original Broadway Cast)
Musical Background: Her breakout role in Mean Girls featured a brief but hilarious performance of “Jingle Bell Rock,” which the Big Love veteran followed with a star turn as Sophie in the 2008 Mamma Mia! film adaptation. Seyfried also joined Jackman, Beyonce and Zac Efron on stage for a tribute to movie musicals during the 2009 Oscars and recorded an original song for her 2010 film Dear John.
Video Evidence: Seyfried performs a steamy duet of “Lay All Your Love on Me” with Mamma Mia! co-star Dominic Cooper.
Star: Eddie Redmayne
Role: Marius, a dashing student revolutionary and friend of Eponine, who ultimately falls for Cosette.
Signature Songs: “A Heart Full of Love,” “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables”
Notable Stage Predecessors: Hugh Panaro (Broadway 1989), Ricky Martin (Broadway 1996), Adam Jacobs (2006 Broadway revival), John Lloyd Young (2008 Hollywood Bowl Concert), Nick Jonas (25th Anniversary London Concert)
Musical Background: A Tony winner for Red who's currently charming audiences on the big screen in My Week With Marilyn and earning raves in London as the title king in Richard II, Redmayne recently told Broadway.com, “My mom and dad took my brother and me to see [Les Miz] when I was a kid, and the result was that when we went on holiday my brother sang a mean Jean Valjean and I was Javert.” The handsome Brit is taking singing lessons to prep for the film.
Video Evidence: We weren't able to hunt down a long video of Redmayne belting, but here's a smoldering clip of him heating up a Burberry campaign ad...and really what else could you ask for from a hunky soldier?
Star: Sacha Baron Cohen
Role: Monsieur Thenardier, sleazy innkeeper and father of Eponine.
Signature Songs: “Master of the House,” “Beggars at the Feast"
Notable Stage Predecessors: Nick Wyman (Broadway 1997), Gary Beach (2006 Broadway Revival)
Musical Background: Best known for his alter egos Borat, Bruno and Ali G from TV's The Ali G Show, as well as their subsequent film adaptations, Cohen has one major movie musical credit: playing devious Italian barber Pirelli in 2007’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.
Video Evidence: Cohen performs “The Contest” opposite Johnny Depp in Sweeney Todd.
Star: Helena Bonham Carter
Role: Madame Thenardier, the boorish wife of Monsieur Thenardier.
Signature Songs: “Master of the House”
Notable Stage Predecessors: Jenny Galloway and Ann Harada (2006 Broadway Revival)
Musical Background: Carter, a two-time Oscar nominee for The Wings of the Dove and The King’s Speech, played pie shop owner Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd, directed by her longtime love Tim Burton.
Video Evidence: Carter takes on “The Worst Pies in London” from Sweeney Todd.
Star: Aaron Tveit
Role: Enjolras, a close friend of Marius and leader of the student revolutionaries.
Signature Songs: "Red and Black," "Do You Hear the People Sing?"
Notable Stage Predecessors: Michael Maguire (Tony winner in the Original Broadway Cast), Stephen R. Buntrock (Broadway 1997), Aaron Lazar and Max von Essen (2006 Broadway Revival), Ramin Karimloo (25th Anniversary London Concert)
Musical Background: A Broadway favorite, Tveit made his Main Stem debut as a replacement Link Larkin in Hairspray and later starred as Wicked hunk Fiyero. Tveit originated the role of Gabe in 2009’s Next to Normal and reached full leading man status in 2011’s Catch Me If You Can.
Video Evidence: Tveit tears into Next to Normal's "I'm Alive" in a Broadway.com music video.