Tom Hooper’s Les Misérables stands apart from other movie musicals not only in terms of how grounded and tangible the setting feels, but also how the ensemble cast performed the original Broadway show’s tunes during filming – as opposed to either well-ahead of shooting or during post-production. The teaser trailer hinted at the results, with Anne Hathaway delivering an untraditional rendition of lyricists Alain Boublil and Jean-Marc Natel’s song “I Dreamed a Dream.”
A new “extended look” at Hooper’s Les Miz highlights that aspect of the production via interviews with central cast members – Hathaway, Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe – as well as supporting players such as Amanda Seyfried, Eddie Redmayne, and Samantha Barks.
Hooper’s approach with Les Misérables may prove somewhat divisive for musical theater lovers. On the one hand, as Jackman illustrates in the featurette, singing live does allow for more spontaneity in terms of performance; thus, the characters can behave in a more instinctive manner than they would striving to match pre-recorded vocals.
On the other hand, some hardcore Broadway fans prefer stage musicals that feature the talents of dedicated singers, rather than performers who are actors first and singers second. It’s for that reason that some music specialists take issue with films like Sweeney Todd and Mamma Mia!, where celebrities and acclaimed stars were cast over people with proven professional musician chops.
Les Misérables, however, has the advantage of a cast that includes a Tony-winner (Jackman) and a part-time professional musician with nearly three decades of experience (Crowe), as well someone who actually appeared in the original stage show (Barks). The majority of the rest of the cast has already demonstrated some musical prowess either onstage or onscreen, so they too seem worthy to tackle the challenge Hooper has set before them.
Look (and listen) for Les Misérables when it opens in theaters on Christmas Day.