12 Days of ‘Misérables’: A Film 28 Years in the Making

by | December 14, 2012 at 3:28 PM | 12 Days of 'Miserables', Movies

Producer Cameron Mackintosh, 'Les Mis' poster (Photos: Stuart Wilson/Getty, Universal)

Celebrate the December 25th release of Universal’s movie musical epic “Les Misérables” with 12 days of interviews and inside peeks at the film’s production with director Tom Hooper, Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried and more of the cast.

It’s taken nearly 28 years for the beloved stage musical “Les Misérables” to jump from the hardwood to the big screen. But as far as the show’s original producer Cameron Mackintosh is concerned, the three-decade delay was actually a blessing in disguise.

“It was nearly going to be a movie 25 years ago,” Mackintosh said during an interview in New York City. “Thanks to fate, it didn’t happen then.”

The movie musical was to be helmed by Sir Alan Parker, the British director behind films such as “Fame,” “Mississippi Burning” and “Evita.”

“It had just opened in Broadway here and I had a lot of offers and I said, ‘Look, I’m not interested in selling the rights, but if a great director like Alan Parker was interested in it, of course I would be interested in it,’” Mackintosh, 66, recalled. “But I made one scripture. I said it couldn’t actually be released for at least five years. Little did I know that that would be the beginning of its run and, during that time, Alan, quite understandably, just felt that the time had passed and he went on to other things.”

Click here to watch ‘Les Mis’ clips and behind-the-scenes videos

Mackintosh, who co-produced the upcoming “Les Mis” film adaptation, is also responsible for producing some of the most beloved stage productions of all time, including “Cats,” “Phantom of the Opera,” “My Fair Lady,” “Miss Saigon,” “Little Shop of Horrors,” “Carousel,” “Oklahoma!” and “Oliver!” In 1985, he produced the original English “Les Mis,” which was based on the 1862 novel by Victor Hugo and features music and lyrics by Claude-Michel Schönberg and Herbert Kretzmer. Set in 19th century France, the touching story follows Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman), a reformed prisoner who must raise a destitute factory worker’s daughter (Amanda Seyfried) while evading a lawman (Russell Crowe) who wants to put him back in prison.

Today, the musical has been seen by more than 60 million people in 42 countries and 21 languages. And despite its popularity, there was no guarantee it would ever make the jump to film.

“I always felt that ‘Les Misérables’ would never get made as a movie unless there was a director who had a passion to make it,” Mackintosh said. And he found that passion in Tom Hooper, the Academy Award-winning director of “The King’s Speech,” who brought a distinct vision for the stage adaptation and a set of uncompromised standards for his cast.

“We have some huge stars here. They all auditioned. And they absolutely wanted to audition,” Mackintosh explained. “It was important for them that they would be comfortable acting through music, and it was important for us to know they could do that. But ‘Les Misérables’ is that very rare subject that actors want to be in it. It’s one of the reasons the standard of the show is so high around the world, because every group of actors wants to possess the material and bring themselves to it like any great play.”

Click here to watch more ‘Les Mis’ clips and behind-the-scenes videos

He continued, “It’s what the actors and the creative team and the public share – they have a passion for this material. And anyone who doesn’t isn’t part of the ‘Les Misérables’ family.”

With the film just 12 days away from opening, Mackintosh says he’s pleased that “Les Mis” faithful appear happily poised to join him on the next leg of Jean Valjean’s epic journey.

“For me, the great relief is that the great fans of the show have embraced the film as its own thing,” he said. “They love the show, but they love the film. And we would not be here if it wasn’t for the millions and millions of people around the world who – and certainly in England – took the show to their hearts when the critics hadn’t quite realized what it was. If ever there was a people’s musical, it’s ‘Les Misérables.’”

 

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.