Hugh Jackman & Paul Bettany Could Square Off In ‘Les Miserables’

Published 4 years ago by , Updated February 15th, 2014 at 4:26 pm,

Having secured an Academy Award for his direction on The King’s Speech, Tom Hooper is now readying himself for the task of adapting the Broadway musical version of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables for the big screen – with two time Oscar-nominee William Nicholson (Gladiator, Elizabeth: The Golden Age) handling the scripting duties.

Hugh Jackman has reportedly begun talks to star in the film as the famous convict Jean Valjean, which would provide the X-Men star an opportunity to show off his Tony Award-winning song and dance skills to moviegoers. Are you ready to see Wolverine belt out some showtunes?

On a more serious note: THR has confirmed that Jackman is in the midst of hammering out a deal that would see him appear in Hooper’s musical. Deadline has also reported that Paul Bettany (Priest) tested for the role of Inspector Javert, the officer who essentially devotes his life to tracking down Valjean after he breaks parole. So the two actors could potentially square off against one another (by singing, rather than duking it out) in Les Miserables.

However, the recent news that James Mangold is all but a lock to direct The Wolverine could throw a wrench in the mechanics of Jackman’s Les Miserables deal. The plan is for production on Hooper’s film to begin overseas in Europe before the end of 2011 – which could conflict with Fox’s originally-planned production timetable on Wolverine 2.

All hope is not lost, for those of you who hoping to see Jackman both sing and sprout adamantium-laced claws. It’s looking increasingly unlikely that The Wolverine will begin shooting in time to make its previously-set Summer 2012 release date, in part because of conditions in post-tsunami Japan. However, 20th Century Fox has proven more than willing to rush production on a X-Men movie in the past (see: X-Men: First Class), so don’t count on anything just yet.

Hugh Jackman may star in Les Miserables Hugh Jackman & Paul Bettany Could Square Off In Les Miserables

The musical incarnation of Les Miserables is one of the most successful – technically, the longest-running – stage shows ever and has won multiple Tony Awards, including (naturally) for Best Musical and Best Score. Much like Hugo’s dense source material, the musical play is composed of numerous subplots that follow a variety of characters (most of which are lower-class citizens) in early 19th-century France; even so,the central narrative thread still concerns Valjean and his conflict with Javert, which ends up spanning decades.

While moviegoers certainly have mixed feelings about whether or not The King’s Speech was really “the best picture” of last year, there’s no denying that Hooper did an excellent job bringing the period drama to life. Les Miserables is certainly a much more melodramatic and larger-scale tale than King’s Speech, but Hooper seems as well fit for the job as anyone. If nothing else, devoted Broadway fans can be thankful that this musical will be brought to life by a filmmaker who knows a thing or two about character-oriented drama – and not just how to make a movie big and loud (see: Joel Schumacher and his Phantom of the Opera adaptation).

We’ll keep an eye on Les Miserables and let you know who ultimately signs on to star in the film.

Source: THR, Deadline

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  1. Badasssssssssss!

  2. Musicals almost always fail in their translation to the big screen.

    Case in point: Tim Burton’s absolutely dreadful version of the masterpiece “Sweeney Todd”.

    Now, Les Miz isn’t anywhere near the quality of work that Sweeney Todd is. It’s a high-carb, high-sugar, low-protein version of a dense and serious book. There are a ton of other musicals I think merit a move to the silver screen before the dreck that is Les Miz.

    But hey, I’d pay to see Wolverine sing and dance… after all, that’s actually what he’s really good at.

    • Not a very smart comment Mike. Yes, there have been some stinker translations (Sweeney,Nine, etc.) however, many movie adaptations have won major hardware as well, Sound of Music, West Side, Chicago. More have succeeded than failed. This one could be spectacular.

  3. I’ve seen Les Miz twice in the theater and think it would translate beautifully to the big screen simply because it is an easily understandable musical in a way that a les accessible show such as Sweeney Todd is not. Jackman would be great in the role and I can only hope the scheduling will permit his presence in both films. Given the problems in Japan and the fact that Mangold was chosen in a rather rushed fashion by Fox, I would hope they could film a great deal of the movie that didn’t actually require Jackman’s presence to give him the time to do Les Mis.

  4. I have been waiting for this for years. Huzzah!

  5. Les Miserables is closer to an opera than a musical. No dancing and sung-through from beginning to end. I like Jackman, hope things go well with Wolverine. But have seen the 25th Anniversary Concert of Les Mis, Tom Hooper and Universal are idiots if they pass over Alfie Boe. He was brilliant as Valjean and Boe could sing Jackman into the next county.

    • And who is Alfie Boe and how could he get a role in a big movie musical that needs a movie star in it? And Jackman can sing really well, unlike other actors whose attempts to sing in musicals were almost painful (Mamma Mia, for example). I have a great respect for stage actors but if this movie should succeed (and Les Miz definitely deserves it) then it needs a big name attached – talented, with ability to sing that role, but still a big name. There is nobody better in Hollywood right now.

      • Alfie Boe is a UK opera singer turned popera singer after he sang Valjean at a big anniversary performance in England. Both UK opera and musical worlds are split on how good he is. But his fans are not. Most cult-like of any fan-following I’ve ever seen. Even Elvis and Beatles fan didn’t think their idols were a step or two above JC himself. He does have a pretty voice. His fans think he is Jean Valjean come to life, with all the saintliness that implies.

    • If Les Miz is closer to an opera than a musical, they should produce it as an opera with other operatic singers like Alfie Boe, and not as a movie. ANY tenor with opera training can sing any regular singer into the next county. Not just Alfie Boe, as his rabid fans would have you believe. He’s got a pretty voice and appealing puppy eyes. But that’s not enough.

      The issue is can the MOVIE appeal to a general MOVIE-GOING audience. Regular folks don’t need or want opera voices. They want good singin’ and good moves. Hugh Jackman doesn’t need to dance in LM, but he needs a graceful strength that comes from being a dancer. He needs to be convincingly and gracefully powerful as he lifts up that cart at the end of Act 1, and strong as he carries Marius through the sewers. If he’s straining like a clod, he’ll lose the GENERAL movie audience. Who will care much more about that than about his vocal range or legato or vibrato.

      Tom Hooper and Universal WOULD be idiots if they passed up Hugh Jackman – or someone similar in favor of someone with an operatic voice and not much else. That’s opera-land, not movies. You don’t even need it in musicals. All that’s needed is that the audience believes the character.
      If they don’t believe the character, you’ve just lost yourself and your investors a few millions in whatever currency you choose.

      Hugh Jackman has credibility with movie audiences. Alfie Boe has a cult following with the PBS crowd and ONLY SOME of the musical crowd. Lots of the latter prefer Colm Wilkinson or John Owen Jones, which the Boe cultists conveniently ignore. Neither of THOSE two, more established, mature, and NON-OPERATIC singers, are even mentioned. CW and JOJ are much HUMBLER in not seeking movie fame, and their fans more reasonable in their devotion. (Modestly said, myself, as their fan.) We’ll see if Boe throws another temper tantrum if he doesn’t get the movie lead. Just like he throws temper tantrums toward the opera folks he thinks done him wrong.

      The movie hecate93 is suggesting would be something that would air on PBS. Oh wait, it already does, with every fund raiser for the last six months.

  6. Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd wasn’t bad, just a completely different direction that most stage productions try to do.

    This really has to be a musical for the fans though, no cutting songs in favor of spoken dialogue as they did in “Phantom of the Opera” and “RENT”. thats most people’s biggest conserns. They expect a song in a certain place and it just falls flat.

    Also, no adding stupid songs like they did with “NINE”, they cut all the best songs and added a bunch of crappy ones.

    The cast is looking great (anyone else see Jackman at the Tonys?) and i do admit that Tom Hooper is would be perfect for this project.

  7. Let’s have Joaquin Phoenix play Wolverine — he is short, etc., while Jackman is too tall. Jackman really needs to do Les Miserables — that is his forte… If Jackman does not get to do Les Miserables because of Wolverine, I will be very upset…

    • Blasphemy! Wolverine trumps musicals! :P

  8. Yes yes yes yes yes!!!! Hugh Jackman singing on the big screen opposite Paul Bettany – awesome!!!

  9. One of my favorite musicals. I thinkHugh Jackman can play either role, but like him better as the protagonist. Alfie Boe has a beautiful operatic voice and that works well on the stage or in the opera, but I cannot see him in a musical movie version of Les Miz.

  10. I’m coming late to this discussion — but I agree that Hugh Jackman is the best choice to bring the character of Jean Valjean to life on the big screen, in a musical version!

    He has the acting chops, the singing ability, the physicality ( who can transform into the various faces of Valjean, who is big and strong enough to lift the cart and carry Marius on his back, to look like the tower of strength versus the obssessed Javert), and the big screen presence to make sure that Valjean is remembered as the heroic figure he was in the novel and in the stage production.

    I’m also excited that he seems to be very enthusiastic to do the role. He was quoted in an interview before his San Francisco solo musical show that he has put his hat into the casting ring for the role of Valjean. It seems he did bat for the role aggressively and if things turn up as projected, he will be filming the movie right after Wolverine 2. What a contrast but what an apt description of Hugh Jackman’s dual career — action movies and musical theatre!

    He does have an excellent professional reputation – he took some lessons with an European opera singer to prepare for The Boy From Oz, while filming an action movie in Prague ( Van Helsing) and also learned to tapdance in his trailer. It is very likely that he will apply the same focus and dedication to bringing about a memorable screen interpretation of one Jean Valjean!

  11. What if they combined the two projects and made a Les Mis: X-Men version?

    Wolverine as Valjean
    Rogue as Cossette
    Kitty Pryde as Eponine
    Bobby (Iceman) as Marius
    Magneto as Enjolras
    Mystique (or Jean Grey) as Fantine

    Xavier and Storm as the Thernardiers with the X-Mansion as the Inn

    With Colonel Stryker as Javert, trying to return Wolverine to the Weapon X facility.

    The barricades would have mutants facing off against government trying to register or de-mutant them.

    Ok. Just kidding! ::dodges stones::

  12. Afie Boe all the way!! don’t just say Hugh cause he is famous. You should not upset real musical lovers and destroy the musical movie because of popularity!

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