Monday, July 18, 2016

My Very Long 2012 Les Mis Casting Analysis

Bonjour, readers!

I thought it'd be fun to talk a little about the casting choices from the 2012 Les Misérables movie. I may do this for other movie versions as well, but for now the 2012 is the only one I've finished.

So let's proceed, shall we? ;)

*Warning: overused caps lock and italics to follow*

Jean Valjean- Hugh Jackman

"Suddenly I see what I could not see. Something suddenly has begun." 

Now, I know that some people don't love his singing. Although I'm by no means an expert on singing(haha), my Dad and I both enjoyed his.

My only criticism is that he let the singing fall flat in a couple places. For example, most Valjeans sing-

My soul belongs to God, (*increase in volume*)I know 

Hugh Jackman sang it this way--

My soul belongs to God, (*whispers*) I know 

He did that in a couple other places as well, so I'll leave it up to you to decide if he was unnecessarily mellowing the melody, or trying to sound more conversational with himself(wow, that sentence made a whole lot of sense ;) ).

Javert- Russell Crowe

"Mine is the way of the Lord. Those who follow the path of the righteous will have their reward." 

Poor Russell Crowe. (and poor Nick Jonas while we're at it)

Some people don't like Hugh Jackman's singing, and others laugh at the way Eddie Redmayne's head trembles on high notes, but there is almost unanimous agreement that Russell Crowe sings very poorly.

I'm not even sure that I'd say he really understood book-Javert's character. I'll talk about him another day, but I'd point to Norm Lewis as an actor who better perceived Hugo's Javert.

I imagined Javert with a sharp face and bark-like voice, neither of which were accomplished in Russell Crowe. This Javert always seemed unsure of himself, a part of his book-character to be sure, but he concealed it better in the book.

Again, Norm Lewis is better. :D

The Bishop- Colm Wilkinson

"But remember this my brother: see in this some higher plan. God has raised you out of darkness to become an honest man."


For those who didn't know, Colm Wilkinson was the original Jean Valjean on Broadway.

*pause for dramatic effect*

So clearly, there's no way "they" could have gone wrong with casting him as the Bishop.

Fantine- Anne Hathaway 

"Now life has killed the dream...I dreamed."

Gahhh, this casting choice has my wholehearted approval.

Not only is her acting spot-on, but she sings like Fantine should sing. My first exposure to I Dreamed a Dream, and the musical as a whole, actually, was The Complete Symphonic Recording from 1988. Fantine sings I Dreamed a Dream like... a confident opera singer, evoking all the wrong images. The Fantine she portrayed on that album is a completely different Fantine than the timid woman Victor Hugo wrote.

All that to say-- I love Anne Hathaway for finding the right "Fantine-voice", especially in I Dreamed a Dream.

And fun fact, provided by my friend Ilse, she lost twenty-five pounds for the role.

Bravo, Anne Hathaway. :D

Young Cosette- Isabelle Allen

"I know a place where no one's lost. I know a place where no one cries. Crying at all is not allowed. Not in my castle on a cloud.

Dawwwww, she is SO CUTE.



(Thank you, Pinterest)

She's also a good singer and good actor, and yes, much approval.

Older Cosette- Amanda Seyfried

"Does he know I'm alive; do I know if he's real? Does he see what I see; does he feel what I feel?"

Not my favorite, to be honest. I don't like the way her voice shakes at the end of a phrase or that she's far too old to play Cosette. Seriously, Cosette was like my age.

Wouldn't it be awesome if they made a movie where Cosette and Eponine were actually teens?

Mr. Thénardier- Sacha Baron Cohen

"Have we done for your child what is best? Shared our bread, shared each bone, treated her like she's one of our own!

Hey look, it's the Station Inspector! (Watch Hugo if you're confused) He's funny and all, but like Russell Crowe, I'm not sure he grasped the book-Mr. Thenardier's personality. Or maybe the way it's scripted is at fault.

In the book, the family dynamic was more like "Mistress of the House".  Mrs. Thénardier ran the show for the first half of the story. Here, Sacha Baron Cohen seems a little too "together" to play Mr. Thénardier accurately.

Mrs. Thénardier- Helena Bonham-Carter
"Medicines are expensive, Monsieur! Not that we begrudged a sou: it's not more than we Christians must do!"

Not much too say. It was exciting to see a big-name actor(Harry Potter, Cinderella), but her performance was neither stunning nor disappointing to me. 
But, while I'm on the Thénardiers, let's talk about...

Eponine Thénardier- Samantha Barks 
"I love him. If only on my own."

Ahh, Samatha Barks. She's talented, pretty, and the only cast member who played the same role in the 25th Anniversary edition. 

I only have two complaints about her being chosen:

1). Her voice is too high.

I'm not even sure what they could've done about it, but Victor Hugo explicitly describes her voice as such:

"It was a hollow, cracked, smothered, rasping voice, the voice of an old man, roughened by brandy and liquor." 

Obviously it would've ruined all the songs she was in if she actually sounded like that, but I still think they could've chosen someone with a deeper voice. 

At least hers was better than the Eponine from the 1988 recording. That Eponine sounds like a 6 year old. 

2). She's too old.

She was about twenty-one when it was released, unlike the book-Eponine who was closer to my age.

Otherwise I really liked her performance.

Marius- Eddie Redmayne

"Oh, my friends my friends, don't ask me what you're sacrifice was for!"

Yeah, so. I don't really know about him. At first, when I'd just seen pictures, I thought he was a good idea. But when I saw the movie, I realized he just wasn't quite right. I can't put it into words and he's really not that bad... 
His singing is okay and all... 
It's silly, but I think the biggest problem is the way his head quivers on high notes, because it distracts me. 

Maybe I should watch it again and re-assess. :)

Enjolras- Aaron Tveit

"The colors of the world are changing day by day!"

I'm probably the only Les Mis fan in the world who isn't totally obsessed with Enjolras. He's awesome! He's great! But I don't get the obsession included in so many peoples' Les Mis fangirling. :)

so intense :)
As for the casting, sure! Aaron Tveit did great, but he just didn't strike me as all that exciting. Sorry.

(Again, I need to re-watch it)

Gavroche- Daniel Huttlestone

"So never kick a dog because he's just a pup, we'll follow twenty armies and we won't give up, so you better run for cover when the pup grows up!"

YASS. He is so cute! You know what, we need more pictures: 

(Again, thank you to Pinterest!)

The Barricade Boys

I don't have an opinion really on any of the actors for the barricade boys. My favorite is Combeferre, played by Fra Free.

Other Special Appearances- 

Katie Hall I didn't even pick up on this one till I was doing the "research" for this post, but apparently one of the women who sings in "Turning"(Did you see them going off to fight?) is Katie Hall, who played Cosette in the 25 Anniversary Edition. How cool is that!

The soldier- *ahem* He actually doesn't have a name, but he's one of the soldiers fighting the barricade boys and he's played by Hadley Fraser, who was Grantaire in the 25th Anniversary. According to the internet at least. ;)

So there you go!

Agree/disagree? Who is your favorite actor in Les Misérables?


  1. I noticed Jackman diverged a bit from other singers as well...the one part that really stood out to me was at the end of "Bring Him Home" when usually the last "bring...him...home..." is fairly quiet, but Jackman actually got really loud (like forte loud) on the last "home" which was different.

    I've never seen Norm Lewis, and I know this is an unpopular opinion, but I just really like Russel Crow as Javert. It's really weird because it seems like I shouldn't, but he just has those sad little puppy dog eyes and seems so confused...I guess he doesn't really fit the book-Javert character but I just feel bad for him. He seems like he needs a hug or something. And I don't really have a huge problem with his singing, I think he did really well with "Stars". Then again I'm not a singing expert.

    Whoa, I did not know the Bishop used to be Valjean! That's so cool! I was wondering where the producers found such a good singer to take on such a small role, but that makes sense. If I were Hugh Jackman I would be notice to perform in front of him though!

    I think Anne Hathaway did a good job singing...some of her little ditties make me cringe a bit, like when she says "you pay me first, what I am due" but it makes sense that she would be very warbly since she was in such a scary situation.

    Those pictures are adorable :D :D :D
    And she is actually a really good singer, very on-key. I was impressed. And her face when she's with the Thenardiers is perfect.

    A lot of people don't like Amanda Seyfried, but honestly I didn't have a problem with her singing. I am continually impressed by the super high (almost whistle-tone-esque) note she hits at the end of "A Heart full of Love".
    EVERY. TIME. I sing that song I can't hit it!
    Maybe it would be more historically accurate to have teens, but I think a lot of audiences would find that weird and maybe even gross since they're not used to it.

    I dunno, the Thenardiers just kind of bothered me throughout. They're too over the top in my opinion. They look like they stepped out of a Tim Burton movie or something.

  2. I agree that Eponine would sound weird if it was all scratchy throughout the whole thing, but personally I really liked Samantha Bark's performance. She is so beautiful! I read somewhere that she didn't wear any makeup during filming (I can't verify it though). Her voice is really impressive especially when she sings "a world that's full of happiness that I will never know..."

    He's the first Marius I ever watched, so I usually think of him when I think of Marius. I guess for that reason he fits in my head. I've only seen the movie once but I've listened to the soundtrack countless times, so I don't see his head quivering much (although I specifically remember one instance of that during the "Red/Black" song when he sings "the color of despair" that was pretty weird). Also when he's telling Cosette that Valjean has gone away, he says "all he asked for me to say was that's on a journey far away" and he really did not hit the note there which was unfortunate. Overall though, I liked him because he was my first intro to the character.

    How can you not totally be in love with Enjolras? Just kidding--in the film he is pretty one-dimensional with only one goal. His singing was pretty good throughout the film, in my opinion. He sounded like he was straining his voice a bit when he sings "until the free!" but then again I can barely get that note anyway, haha.

    Aw, the pictures *faints from cuteness intake overload*
    I liked him, and his voice goes impressively high, but his accent is so British...I dunno.

    Wow, more cameos! That's neat.

    My favorite character is Javert because he gets some of my favorite lines and I have a thing for Russel Crow's sad-eyes.

    And yes, I am aware he's completely not book-Javert, but I just get excited when he sings his little lines like at the end of "The Robbery" ("everyone about your business, clear this garbage off the street"). It's just...I dunno XD

    Sorry this comment is so long, but in the past week I've listened the soundtrack at least 12 times as I painted my shed. Every Les Mis song is stuck in my head. I just concluded singing "The Confrontation". With myself. Even though it's a duet. I know both parts. Don't judge!! XD

    Great post!

    1. That's interesting. I was just distracted during that scene because I was afraid he'd wake all of the barricade boys up. xD

      Norm Lewis is from the 25th Anniversary edition.

      Aww, well he does need a hug. ;) I liked him at first, just not until I started comparing him to the book. But YES "Stars" is beautiful. That whole scene in the movie is amazing.

      Yeah! I hadn't thought about that before, but you're right that Hugh Jackman was probably a little nervous!

      Huh, that's interesting. I skipped one of the scenes that she was in, so I only actually heard her sing in "I Dreamed A Dream" At The End of the Day", "Fantine's Death", and the Epilogue. Maybe her performance wasn't as good in the scene I skipped.


      That's true. She does get some pretty high notes.

      Yeah, you're probably right. Since the musical originated as a Broadway play, it was probably just traditional to cast people who were old enough to act on a schedule, but maybe one of the older, non-musical movie versions has teen actors for Cosette and Eponine.

      Huh, well, I did think "Master of the House" was over the top, but not just because of their acting.

      Right... Her voice IS really, really pretty, my criticisms are just my getting caught up on book-details. :) I think all of her gestures and movements totally encapsulated Eponine.

      That makes sense. I just felt like he was a little awkward, but then the book-Marius was awkward too... Maybe I'm just too critical. ;)

      Haha, it's not that I didn't want to like him... I just didn't all that much...

      I KNOW. I'll have to post more Pinterest finds sometime. They're totes adorbz. <3 (I know what you mean about his accent being too British, though)

      Well I'm glad you enjoyed Russell Crowe's acting even though a lot of people didn't. Oh my goodness, I LOVE the way he sings that line. I don't even know why! I'll just randomly blurt it out sometimes. xD

      I was so happy to see your long comment! Wow, that's pretty cool. Hehe, I'm an expert at singing "The Confrontation" with myself. ;) (NOT)

      The real challenge is mastering One Day More as a solo. xD

      By the way, I'm sorry this reply wasn't as detailed as it was going to be. It got deleted half-way through (twice) because I got enticed by the pictures in the post...and when I clicked on them my comment was deleted. Oops;)

      By the way, have you listened to any Les Mis recordings minus this one? Besides Fantine, the 1988 is one of my favorites.

      Thank you, again! :D

    2. YES! He is singing loud right in Marius's face XD

      So you skipped the "Lovely Ladies" song? I don't blame you, it's pretty weird. It's sung really upbeat but the tone is incongruous with what is actually happening in the story.

      One Day More challenge accepted! I can do the beginning but when everyone is singing over each other it gets trickier ;)

      Of course, you're welcome :)

    3. Right? I guess that's just another example of how unrealistic musicals are. :)

      Yeah, I did... Actually I was watching it with my Dad, since he knew when to skip scenes, so he cut the end of that song short. We also skipped I Dreamed A Dream, but I've heard it a million times on Pandora and it's sooo pretty. It's kind of funny-- as much as I love Les Mis, I've never heard the complete "Lovely Ladies" song.

      Yes! I also start with the beginning and think-- "Oh, I've got this," but then it gets REALLY difficult. I usually just end up singing with whoever's being louder at the moment. xD

  3. Oh my, I'm sorry to keep commenting, but I noticed in my first comment I have an error. I meant to say "I would be NERVOUS to perform in front of him".

    1. *groans* How annoying! ;)

      Not at all! I SO appreciate your comments. I was working on a reply, but it got deleted somehow. :( I WILL reply to those soon:)

      But for now-- I figured that that's what you meant to say. :D I make those sort of errors all the time!


Hello! It seems you're preparing to leave a comment?

If you do, I will be marvelously happy and you will make my day, but please keep in mind that comments with language or discouraging content will ruin my day. :)