Newly-minted Oscar-winner Tom Hooper is aiming big with his followup to The King's Speech by tackling a film adaptation of Les Miserables, the Broadway musical smash sensation that is itself based on Victor Hugo's classic novel - which revolves (in part) around the convict Jean Valjean and his lifelong conflict with the authoritative Inspector Javert, set against the backdrop of early 19th century France.
Hugh Jackman is confirmed to star as Valjean, but most of the other pivotal roles in the film have yet to be officially (or something like that) filled. One thing seems certain: there won't be a shortage of A-listers onboard, at the end of the day.
Broadway World is reporting that Anne Hathaway (at Jackman's encouragement) is "set to take on the role" of Fantine, a single mother who desperately struggles to provide for her young daughter, Cosette, in Les Miserables. Hayden Panettiere (Heroes), Miranda Cosgrove (iCarly), Lucy Hale (Pretty Little Liars) and Harry Potter's Emma Watson are all reportedly in contention to play the young adult version of Cosette.
Those four startlets are also said to be in the running to portray Éponine, the daughter of the Thénardiers, who are entrusted by Fantine to care for Cosette - but end up employing the latter as a slave and extorting money from her mother, under the pretense that they need it in order to raise Cosette properly. The co-stars of Hooper's King's Speech - Geoffrey Rush (who played Inspector Javert in a non-musical 1998 film version of Les Miserables) and Helena Bonham Carter - are reportedly in line to play that deceitful couple.
The Playlist has been keeping tabs on all these casting rumors for Hooper's musical, and is also reporting that Russell Crowe (not Paul Bettany, as previously rumored) is expected to portray Javert in the film.
Most of these casting rumors for Les Miserable make sense enough; after all, Jackman is a Tony Award-winning singer and Hathaway is known for being fairly musically talented as well (see: her "On My Own" solo at the 2011 Oscars ceremony). Crowe, by comparison, is perhaps best known as the (hot-tempered) powerhouse actor and star of films like L.A. Confidential, Gladiator, and A Beautiful Mind, but he's also an accomplished musician who began his professional career back in the 1980s. Plus, as far as screen personality goes, these three would fit their respective Miserables characters quite nicely.
There is some question about the production timeline for Les Miserables, which Jackman was originally supposed to begin work on once filming had wrapped on The Wolverine. However, there have recently been conflicting reports about whether that X-Men project will begin shooting this November - or be delayed until March 2012, allowing for its star to play Valjean first. Crowe is also slated to appear in Allen Hughes' Broken City, which begins production in about two months, so it's not yet clear how all these potential scheduling conflicts are going to be worked out.
We will keep you posted on the status of Les Miserables as the story develops.