For years, “Les Miserables” lovers have been dreaming the dream of seeing their beloved musical brought to the big screen. And now that their dream has become a reality, fans are singing the praises of Tom Hooper’s film adaptation of the hit Broadway musical.
After one day (more) in theaters, the multi-Golden Globe nominee has earned an impressive A CinemaScore, and an A+ score amongst females. We all know “Les Mis” is the most talked about cinematic sing-along since “Chicago” (2002) won the Oscar for Best Picture, but here are Five Film Facts you might not know.
1. Anne Hathaway is receiving rave reviews for her portrayal of Fantine, the single mother whose tragic arc is sure to wet many eyes this holiday season. She’s already earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actress and is being widely hailed as the early Oscar frontrunner. It would seem that Hathaway was born to play the part — which in a way, she was.
When Hathaway was seven, her mother, Kathleen Ann McCauley, was cast in the touring production of “Les Mis” as an ensemble member, a factory girl, and as the understudy for Fantine. The second time Hathaway ever saw the musical, she got to see her mother play Fantine. “I think that was the show that made me really want to be an actress and really have a concept of getting up and performing and telling a story through performance and I’ve just loved singing ever since then,” Hathaway told Fox News.
2. We’ve all heard of stars making lavish requests that drive producers crazy, like requiring the removal of all blue M&M’s from craft services. While Hathaway’s unique needs may have been difficult to procure, there seems to have been some fairly sound reasoning afoot. Hathaway, a long-time vegan, extends her belief system beyond her belly and onto her feet; she requires cruelty free, vegan footwear.
“She’s vegan, so we couldn’t use any animal materials on the shoes for her character Fantine. We had to find very specific shoemakers to create lace-up boots and ankle boots. We also did flats that were much more sophisticated,” Costume Designer Placido Delgado recently told Footwear News. You can get a sense of what a great job Delgado did in the trailer above, right down to Fantine’s authentic, yet cruelty free, shoes.
3. To embody the gaunt and desperate prisoner 24601, aka Jean Valjean, Hugh Jackman went to extreme measures. His trainer told Jackman about a method that body builders used to employ: Not drinking water for 36 hours in order to lose some 10 pounds of water weight, mostly from the cheeks, eyes, and the surface of the skin. “So, I signed up. I did it. About 20 hours into it I really thought this was crazy as the headaches started to build. And trust me: Do not try this at home,” Jackman recently told.
4. It’s safe to say that Victor Hugo never thought much about who would play his characters in a 21st century musical adaptation of his epic novel from 1862. But had Hugo known that Helena Bonham Carter would be playing the part of Madame Thenardier, he might have been a bit vexed. While the two-time Oscar nominee may seem like a perfect fit to play the Madame of the House, she’s also a distant relative to one of Hugo’s most hated political rivals.
According to Ancestry.com, Bonham’s first cousin five times removed is former French politician Achille Fould, a supporter of Louis Napoleon III, the first president of the new French Republic. Hugo, who had once been a colleague of Fould’s but opposed the new leadership, wrote that Carter’s cousin had “blood on his hands” for his role in Napoleon’s regime.
5. “Les Miserables” burst onto the box office scene yesterday, raking in $18.2 million and setting a couple of records along the way: Best opening day for a musical and best weekday Christmas opening ever (Friday opener “Sherlock Holmes” holds the record for best ever Christmas Day opening at $24.6 million).
Of course, it helps to have a built in audience, and “Les Mis” certainly has that. The English-language production debuted on London’s West End in 1985 and has run continuously ever since, making it one of the longest running musicals ever. All told, between the London production, the Broadway production, and all the touring productions, “Les Mis” has grossed more than $3 billion worldwide.
Related Link: View the Full Production Notes for Les Miserables