Eddie Redmayne’s Romeo & Juliet Moment in Les Misérables

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Eddie Redmaybe may become a household name after the release of Les Misérables, but he is certainly not new on the entertainment scene.  At a recent press conference for the film, it was clear that he saw this role as the chance of a lifetime.

He discovered Les Misérables long before Hooper’s film was on his radar.  “I saw the show as a child, and I obsessed about being Gavroche.  As a nine-year-old, I wanted to be the street urchin jumping in and out of barricades.”  He was beyond thrilled when he landed the part of Marius, the politically engaged student who is passionate about the inequality in France and ready to fight for his cause when he falls in love with Cosette. Redmayne describes the event as “a Romeo and Juliet moment, which sends him spinning.  It feels incredibly special to be part of this.”  Here are more sound bites from the interview:

On the relevance of this story today

“There was a certainly a sense also, from the students’ point of view, that this book that was written in the 19th century had such contemporary relevance. And so, with songs like Empty Chairs at Empty Tables and all the stuff that happened at the barricade, all you had to do was open a contemporary newspaper to see equivalents happening, whether it was protests in New York or in the Middle East, this idea of young people lighting a flame to try and expose truths or pursue their own passions for a greater good.  So, I think there was relevance sort of across the board for us to tap into as actors.”

On the director’s use of religious imagery in the film

“I felt a sense as well is relating it to Claude-Michel’s score, that that tune that Colm Wilkinson as the bishop sings to Hugh, to Jean Valjean at that moment in which God is placed into Jean Valjean’s life for the first time, how that recapitulates throughout the piece.

And the bit, when I saw the film, that absolutely stunned me was when Hugh and Isabelle [[Allen, plays Young Cosette] are running away from Javert and they come into the convent.  And you suddenly hear these nuns singing that piece, and it’s suddenly a choral piece.  And this idea that Tom has woven in religious imagery throughout the piece, but suddenly to hear this music in an ecclesiastical setting, something transcendental hit me in that moment.  And I think it is something that Tom was very conscious about.

And so, in some ways, Claude-Michel and Alain and Herbie, in the last moments of the film, conclude with something that they’ve woven throughout the entire piece.”

On the process of bringing film makers and actors together who had never worked on a musical before

“There was also something wonderful. The process felt so new that the extraordinary thing about this project was none of us really knew what we were doing.  It was this wonderful. The mixture of the theater world and the film world meeting together on a process that felt unique and original to all of us.  And none of us knew the right answer.

And so, what was the most leveling and bonding thing I felt was on that on day one. We’d all gone through an incredibly rigorous audition process to get the parts.  And we arrived there going, “All right.  Annie, how are you going to do that?  Hugh, how are you going to do that?”  And actually literally asking each other for advice  –And never feeling like we found the answer either, but constantly aspiring to do as best as we can because we are fans ourselves.”

On Daniel [Huttlestone] getting to play Gavroche

“I literally watched the film and he was so brilliant, and as was Isabelle (Allen). They were so effortless and wonderful.  And my inner seven year old was so happy whilst being deeply jealous.”

On the emotional toll and how he recovered at the end of the day after the camera stopped rolling

“Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter.  It was such a rigorous shooting process and was fueled by passion.  But, yes, there were hard days.  And the way that Tom likes to work is he likes to create real scenarios.

So, Sam was singing in freezing rain.  Hugh was carrying me, carrying me through disgusting sewer stuff, not chocolate milkshake.  But, there was this wonderful thing where about three quarters of the way in, Helena and Sacha arrived.

And it was just this lightness that we needed.”

Redmayne has a beautiful voice, an expressive face and a very bright future.

Disclosure: I was invited as a guest to an advance screening and discussion but all opinions are my own.