Hugh Jackman & Paul Bettany Could Square Off In 'Les Miserables'

Tom Hooper to direct Les Miserables musical adaptation

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.

Tom Hooper to direct Les Miserables musical adaptation

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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