They’ve both played superheroes and hosted the Oscars. But what unites Les Miserables co-stars Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway most is a deep, some might even say geeky love of musical theater.
In Tom Hooper’s new film of the famed musical, Jackman as Jean Valjean and Hathaway as Fantine are finally exercising their musical chops on the big screen. Both received Golden Globe nominations and recently talked about their work.
You two each grew up dreaming of Broadway, played superheroes and hosted the Oscars; do you feel simpatico?
Jackman: I’ve always felt simpatico with Anne ever since we met. When we first started to really work together on the Oscars thing, I instantly loved her. I’ve been hounding Annie to do any number of films.
Hathaway: I’ve probably known about you longer than you’ve known about me. Hugh was always this myth in the Broadway and West End community. And though I never did a show, I did a lot of workshops and readings and things like that. Everybody had a Hugh Jackman story. Hugh’s always been this beacon of light out there, someone who could do theater and film.
In “Les Miserables,” you’re belting out songs with a pianist accompanying you through earpieces. But the set was totally quiet.
Jackman: It was a weird set to go on. It was a bunch of crazy people in the rain singing. The good thing about that was, they couldn’t tell if you were hitting the wrong key because they couldn’t hear the accompaniment.
Hathaway: I really want someone to go and talk to the crew and find out from their perspective what it was like to see dozens and dozens of actors every day standing there looking at the camera and then all of a sudden bursting out into eight-part harmony simultaneously.
Anne, what was it like when you performed “I Dreamed a Dream” in a single take?
Hathaway: It came right after I cut off my hair so it was a little bit of an intense one-two punch. It wasn’t my favorite scene to shoot just because there was so much pressure of expectation. I had gone to Tom and said I was starting to feel nervous about a week before. He said: “Listen. It’s not an iconic song. You mustn’t think about it like that. It’s this woman’s howl. It’s her processing what’s just happened to her.” So I felt very protected; I knew what I wanted to do. But all of a sudden the stakes were raised because there was a camera there. . . . I couldn’t stop thinking about how if I messed it up how exposed I would feel. So I did the first take, and I was so angry with myself because it wasn’t good enough. I had really wanted to come out of the gate and just nail it. I dug in a little deeper, and we did the second take, and it wasn’t there, and I just thought, “Oh, God.” I started the third take, and I just said, “No, no. Stop. I’m sorry. The balance, it’s off.” And that’s when I took the earpieces and stuck them in my ears. I closed my eyes, and I remember thinking, “Hathaway, if you do not do this in this moment, you have no right to call yourself an actor. Put aside all that bulls--- and just do your job.” I opened my eyes and I’m like [snaps fingers]: “Let’s go.” And I did it.
The Associated Press