Photos by Annie Leibovitz
Awards buzz is already swirling around Anne Hathaway for her sure to be devastating performance as Fantine in the Les Miserables film, but the actress was almost passed over for the project, she revealed in the December cover story of Vogue. The film's studio initially thought Hathaway wasn't old enough to take on the suffering mother, however, Hathaway was determined to prove the doubtful producers wrong.
"I knew that someone was going to have to go in there and do something pretty special to unseat me," she said of feeling incredibly confident after her three-hour audition. "Sometimes you leave a room and you feel like maybe you’ve left the door open a crack. This time, I knew that I had slammed it shut behind me."
With the job finally hers, Hathaway began work on the movie after months of getting in fantastic shape for her kick-ass Catwoman turn in The Dark Knight Rises. Hathaway was forced to say farewell to her healthy lifestyle for the role, and shaved 25 pounds off her already-thin frame by eating nothing but two squares of "dried oatmeal paste" each day. "I had to be obsessive about it—the idea was to look near death," she said. "Looking back on the whole experience—and I don’t judge it in any way—it was definitely a little nuts. It was definitely a break with reality, but I think that’s who Fantine is anyway."
Fantine's desperation is at its most intense during the iconic ballad "I Dreamed a Dream." To tackle the number Hathaway turned to voice teacher Joan Lader, whose clients include Tony-winning Les Miz vet Patti LuPone. Hathaway warns the musical's fans should not expect a big, bombastic Broadway rendition of the tune ala LuPone though. "A few weeks before we filmed it, I realized how I was going to have to sing it, and that it wasn’t going to be pretty," she recalled. "If I went for sounding beautiful while looking like this tragic wreck, it would be ridiculous. I saw an opportunity, because of the nature of film, to just go for it and let it be alive and present and raw."
Luckily, Hathaway's time filming in France wasn't all doom and gloom. She revealed the cast became "unusually close," and spent their Friday nights at co-star Russell Crowe's apartment drinking and singing music from the likes of Adele, Robert Plant and Judy Garland. "Everybody was really pulling for each other on this,” Hathaway said of her castmates. “That came from the fact that we were all doing something so different and so potentially disastrous.” Leading man Hugh Jackman doesn't seem to have any doubts about Hathway's performance judging by his praise of the actress: "After Annie’s first day of rehearsal, I said to [director Tom Hooper] ‘You can just turn the camera on, digitally remove the script from her hands, and she’s going to win the Academy Award."
Les Miserables hits theaters on December 25. Watch the trailer (which includes Hathaway's rendition of "I Dreamed a Dream") below!