By Express Features
21st January 2013 12:21 PM
At the top of her game, 30-year-old Anne Hathaway is only getting better each year. 2012 was extra special for the actress, newly wed to actor Adam Shulman, she was the incredible Selina Kyle in The Dark Knight Rises. Hathaway’s latest film Les Misérables sees her starring opposite Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe and directed by Tom Hooper. The film, an adaptation of Victor Hugo’s novel, is set against a backdrop of turbulence in post-revolutionary 19th century France. Having won the Golden Globe Award for her role as Fantine, Hathaway gets talking about the film:
Your mother played Fantine in the first US tour of Les Misérables. Did you ever think you’d play the same role?
I really remember connecting with Les Misérables on a very deep level, even though I was only seven years old. My mother was actually playing the factory girl in a touring production of the musical; she was the understudy for Fantine, but got to do the role that day. Watching her play that character who goes through so much was amazing. Of course, I had no idea that the character would enter my life years later in the way that it did.
Tom Hooper says your audition was remarkable; what was it like?
I had met Hooper when he won the Oscar for The King’s Speech as I was hosting the Academy Awards that year (2010). I went to the audition and started with I Dreamed A Dream and sang that for about an hour. When I finished singing, Tom was crying and I thought that was unusual. He said ‘that song has never made me cry before’. When I left, I went down to the street and burst into tears because it was such an intense experience. But I felt quite positive and thought to myself, ‘I know he has to see a lot of girls but I think I’m in first position.’ A month later, I found out I had the part.
How hard was the research for the role of Fantine?
I did a lot of research into the emotional lives of prostitutes and contemporary sex slaves. There are women all over the world doing what Fantine has to do, because they have to feed their children. I’m not a mother myself but I understand that and empathise with them. Hearing the stories of these women was heartbreaking.
Was singing live a challenge?
As an actor you seek out roles because they are challenging and allow you to transform in order to portray the character. I had to really work on my vocal stamina and so I worked on translating what I love about musical theatre into the language of film.
How did you interpret I Dreamed A Dream, an iconic number?
I Dreamed A Dream is anthemic when performed on stage, and for a powerful effect, the best approach is to show restraint. The first take of the song that we did, I shied away from going where I knew, to that I had to go. Then I felt angry with myself and in the next take I just let it rip.
How was it working with Hugh Jackman especially after your duet with him at the Oscars?
Well, Hugh and I have wanted to do something musical together for a while. Then this film arose and we had not planned it at all. He is a lovely person and he is just about the strongest person I know.
Is it true that Russell Crowe hosted regular Friday night singalongs for the cast?
Crowe invited us all to the cottage he was renting in the hotel grounds and would cook steak for everyone. As I was a vegan, he would make me very nice salads. After dinner we would all move into another room and someone would start playing the piano and we would all sing. It would relax everyone.
Why do you think Les Misérables still resonates so strongly with audiences?
I think it really captures the emotion of what it’s like to be young, idealistic, angry and wanting to start a revolution. Victor Hugo wrote a masterpiece that is singular in its depiction of passion and love.
You had your hair shorn quite brutally for the role. What was that experience like?
I gave Tom the option to cut it for real. I was worried, but I was being very stoic about it until the actual day we were cutting it off. I was very scared and I was shaking, but I could use all those fragile feelings to play the character. I always love being a low maintenance girl, now I am a no maintenance girl.
Where do you see yourself after Les Mis?
I’m 30, I did it! I’m no longer in my 20s and I am super-grateful for the way my 20s rolled out because I really like where I am at right now. Now I’m looking forward to growing.
Les Misérables is out in the theatres.
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