x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Hugh Jackman takes on dream role in Les Misérables

The Aussie actor, who has moved past his Wolverine persona with the character of Jean Valjean, tells us why he was eager to take on the musical part.

Hugh Jackman is already receiving Oscar buzz for his protrayal of Jean Valjean. Carlo Allegri / Reuters
Hugh Jackman is already receiving Oscar buzz for his protrayal of Jean Valjean. Carlo Allegri / Reuters

The Aussie superstar Hugh Jackman, famous for portraying Wolverine in the X-Men franchise, takes on the role of the redemption-seeking fugitive Jean Valjean in the long-awaited adaptation of Les Misérables. The actor came to prominence in musical theatre and performed a rousing musical opening when he hosted the 2009 Academy Awards, a ceremony that many are tipping him to be successful at in 2013 given the critical praise he received for his performance.

As an actor who started in musical theatre, this must be a dream role for you.

That's true; I come from a musical theatre background and so to say this is a "dream role" is an understatement. I'm very much like the fans going to see the film, in that the story meant so much to me and I was eager to see it done right.

The cast sing live on set; was it nerve-racking tackling your character's big numbers?

There were some days on set that stood out. Anne [Hathaway], me and a lot of the cast all had to perform songs and characters that people know so well and hold to their hearts. I wouldn't say I was nervous but very determined we got it right, particularly when we filmed [the song] Bring Him Home. Tom [Hooper, the director] gave me as long as I needed without breaks for lunch … when you're trying to achieve that moment in the character's journey, you don't want to stop for a couple of hours.

You worked with Colm Wilkinson, the first actor to portray the role in the West End and on Broadway, and who plays the bishop in the film. Did you ask for any advice?

He was very kind and offered me some great advice. He said: "I didn't follow everything in the original script. I did what was right for me in that role. You make the choices that are right for you." He was also incredibly generous in knowing when to keep his distance. I think he knows better than anyone the amount of preparation a role like this takes.

Finally, there's a lot of Oscar buzz about the movie. Is that something that plays on your mind?

It's something I think about in terms of the film. These movies take a lot of people a lot of time to make and any recognition - whether it's for performance, directing, costume - is vindication for everyone. We set out to make a movie that did justice to the story. We think we've done that, and that sort of attention is a sign that other people do, too.