A few weeks ago NYC media embraced the story when New York City Police officer Lawrence DePrimo gave a barefoot homeless man a pair of boots. The story went viral and within a day the story had been viewed 1.6 million times, and by the following morning had drawn nearly 350,000 “likes” and 85,000 “shares” – and was a hot topic of discussion on morning television.
During a Q&A with the cast of Les Misérables, Hugh Jackman said his character Valjean reminds him of Lawrence DePrimo. They both undergo a transformation and spiritual change and he sees comparisons. In the film, Valjean is an ex-prisoner hunted for decades by a policeman (played by Russell Crowe). When he agrees to care for factory worker Fantine’s (played by Anne Hathaway) young daughter, Cosette (played by Amanda Seyfried), his life is changed forever. When Jackman sings, “She was never mine to keep”, it adds resonance to the story line. About his character (and the policeman), Jackman said, If I’m a tenth of the man he is, I’ll be a happy man.
When asked bout being a parent and teaching his own children about the film’s tougher themes that still exist in our society today like hunger and poverty, Jackman said:
What amazes me – I have a 12 year old, and a 7 year old – is how naturally they go to that subject and will see it. We travel to many places. The subject is natural to them. For kids in particular, equity is the way the world is meant to be. And of course, they have very little control over their life, I mean, where they live or what they’re dressed in or all those things. But, they naturally see the good in everyone around them and the equality in wherever they go.
So, we do talk about it. We often talk about contribution, about community, about giving back. And I don’t know if it’s just me, but the schools my kids are at, it seems now kids are way more connected to these issues than when I was young. Global Poverty Project is really a bunch of young 20 year olds whose mission is to see the end of extreme poverty in their lifetime. And they are committed to it, and nothing’s going to stop them.
So, I’m a 44 year old guy who basically gets on their bandwagon. They’re smart and passionate. And I think it’s an exciting time, because I think it’s a subject that totally resonates with young people.
My father worked at Price Waterhouse his whole life. And he said by the end of his time at Price, young kids would come there and they won’t ask you about the perk package or car they were going to get. They wanted to know the corporate responsibility that the firm had. That was the most important thing to them.
So, I think it’s exciting, and it’s a great idea to keep the conversation going whenever possible. I think my son’ll see it. It’s a good point. I haven’t even thought about Ava seeing it yet. It may be, at times, a little too brutal. But, certainly the themes will resonate for sure.
Obviously, this film resonates with Jackman on larger than life social issues.
Disclosure: I was invited as a guest of Universal Pictures to a screening and Q&A with the cast but all opinions are my own.