Director Tom Hooper is aiming big with his followup to his Best Picture Oscar-winner, The King's Speech, in the form of Les Misérables: a cinematic treatment of Cameron Mackintosh's decorated Broadway musical, based on Victor Hugo's famous 19th-century novel.
The Les Misérables cast already includes Tony-winner Hugh Jackman as the protagonist, Jean Valjean, and Oscar-winner (and professional musician) Russell Crowe as the antagonist, Inspector Javert. Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, and Eddie Redmayne (My Week with Marilyn) are also locked for important supporting roles.
LondonNet has learned that the latest addition to Hooper's Les Miz musical adaptation is Sacha Baron Cohen. This will mark just the latest film to utilize the Ali G/Borat comedian's vocal talents, which he previously showed off in Tim Burton's Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street adaptation - and will (reportedly) do so again, while playing Freddie Mercury in the upcoming Queen biopic.
Les Miz will also be yet another project that teams Cohen with a high-profile filmmaker, alongside Martin Scorsese's Hugo (which is currently playing in theaters) and Quentin Tarantino's next writing/directing effort, Django Unchained.
Cohen will co-star in Les Miz as Monsieur Thénardier, a corrupt inn keeper who, along with his wife (Carter), blackmails struggling single-mother Fantine (Hathaway) into paying an insurmountable sum of money, so that they will care for her child Cosette - even though, in reality, the couple uses Fantine's daughter for slave labor. Eventually, the admirable ex-convinct Jean Valjean (Jackman) discovers the truth behind the Thénardiers' ruse and raises Cosette as his own child.
Professional singer/actress Lea Michele (a.k.a. Rachel on Glee) is reportedly "in the frame" to play the Thénardiers' daughter, Éponine. It is a role she previously played in the Hollywood Bowl's 2008 Les Miz concert; not to mention, Michele made her Broadway debut portraying young Cosette in a 1995 iteration of the stage musical.
Taylor Swift and Scarlett Johansson are also said to be vying for the role of Éponine, but it sounds as though Michele is very much the front-runner (for the time being).
To be frank: dedicated Les Miz musical fans don't have much to complain about with regards to how the film adaptation is shaping up. Most everyone who has joined the cast so far is not only a well-respected screen actor, but also fits their respective Lez Miz character persona and has solid musical performance chops, to boot.
Combine that with Hooper's directorial finesse, a screenplay penned by multiple Oscar-nominee William Nicholson (Gladiator, Elizabeth: The Golden Age) and art/production design by Hooper's King Speech collaborator, Eve Stewart, and Les Miz should prove to be one of Hollywood's better treatments of a beloved Broadway show. Hardcore Phantom of the Opera fans are probably feeling pretty jealous right now...
Les Misérables (which Hooper has decided to not shoot in 3D) is scheduled to open in theaters around the U.S. on December 7th, 2012.