On Christmas Day, Santa will slide down the chimneys of movie theaters across the nation and deliver the most glorious gift the world's ever known -- the musical movie Les Miserables hits the big screen on December 25. I saw the film a few weeks ago, and friends, I don't think it's possible to over-hype it -- it's absolutely stunning. And just when I thought I couldn't love it anymore, I fell harder for the flick after I sat down with the cast and heard some of the Les Miz behind-the-scenes secrets. Anne Hathaway, Hugh Jackman, Amanda Seyfried, Samantha Barks, and the new love of my life, Eddie Redmayne, revealed 7 private Les Miz hidden treasures that will blow your mind, and, as if it were possible, make you want to see the movie even more.
1. Anne really cut her hair for the role.
I offered [director] Tom [Hooper] the option of cutting my hair. It was always something that I kind of knew in the back of my mind I'd be willing to do for a character if it was ever the right thing to do.
The haircutting was also done in a live-take. They put her hairdresser, a man, in a dress, and he knifed it all off. Hugh Jackman commented,
You need an actual hairstylist to cut her hair, right? If you notice man hands in a dress, you'll see why.
2. Crying while singing is just as hard as it sounds. The cast rehearsed for nine weeks before filming (an extremely rare occurrence for movies) and practiced belting out a tune while bawling their eyes out.
There have been times where I had -- Annie, or all of us had done a version of the song where there's snot coming out of our noses. And [director] Tom'd be like, "All right, that's a little too much."
And Samantha Barks, who plays Eponine, remarked:
I think for me when there's rain pouring on your face and you're crying and you're sniffly, you kind of have to leave a bit of vocal vanity at the door a bit, because first, you're thinking of the sound -- is it sounding nice? Is it sounding right? But, I think that kind of realism in your voice adds to the emotion of that live singing.
3. It was Anne Hathaway who got a lot of attention for her weight loss, but Hugh Jackman lost 30 pounds to play the enslaved Jean Valjean at the beginning of the movie.
When [Javert and Jean Valjean] meet in the play, it's probably five minutes in where they re-meet nine years later and Javert has no idea who this guy is. And it's plainly clear to everyone that the guy has just taken a fake beard off and put on a grayer wig, you know, and it's exactly the same guy.
We've actually have an opportunity here for all the characters to show time, scale, all these things. So, he said, "I want to make you unrecognizable. And if people in your life aren't saying that you're sick, something's wrong, what's going on with you," he says. "Then you haven't gone far enough."
So, I did lose a lot of weight and then had the joy of putting weight on, which was a 30-pound journey from the beginning.
4. It wasn't easy to get a part in Les Miz. Director Tom Hooper explained:
I did a very careful auditioning process. I mean, everyone had to go through auditions, and they were quite extensive, at least three hours. We're talking about some actors like Russell Crowe, who usually you have to offer a role to, you don't get to audition. But because I was determined to do it live, I needed them to prove to me that they could handle that.
5. Speaking of Russell Crowe, he sounds kind of awesome. Anne told me:
You cannot underestimate Russell's contribution and influence on this cast. He was the first one to say, "Hey, everybody, come to my house Friday night. My voice teacher's going to play piano. We'll have a couple drinks and we'll sing."
Oh, to be a fly on the piano.
6. And how did they sing live on set? In the movie, there's a 70-piece orchestra accompaniment. Samantha Barks uncovered:
We all have an earpiece in our ears. And we can hear the piano, but the piano is in a box, kind of just off set. And so, when we watch the film, we can see these big, sweeping orchestrations, but actually what you can hear in your ear is like a tiny, tinny piano ... But, it was funny, because if you don't have the earpiece in, then we all just looked mad, like we were just singing to nothing.
7. Amanda Seyfried, Cosette, disclosed her secret to hitting the high C in "A Heart Full of Love."
Ms. Amanda Seyfried: I created an alternate reality for our characters. However, I think I was the most comfortable of all of us physically. I literally did nothing except stand and sit. I'm blown away by the fact that you guys got through it and did it so unbelievably, like, powerfully. Oh, it's ...
Ms. Anne Hathaway: You hit a C.
Mr. Hugh Jackman: Yes, come on.
Mr. Eddie Redmayne: You hit a C.
Ms. Anne Hathaway: You hit a high C.
Ms. Amanda Seyfried: Yes, I maybe hit that C once out of like 17 takes.
Ms. Anne Hathaway: That's why film is awesome.
Are you excited to see Les Miserables?