LES MISERABLES Character Card: VALJEAN
About Hugh: Hugh Jackman is perhaps best known around the world as Wolverine in the X-Men series, and has starred in films for such directors as Baz Luhrmann (Australia), Woody Allen (Scoop), Christopher Nolan (The Prestige), and Darren Aronofsky (The Fountain). As comfortable on stage as he is on screen, Jackman has seen additional success on Broadway with credits including the musical The Boy From Oz (for which he won Tony, Drama Desk, Drama League, Outer Critics Circle and Theatre World Awards), his recent one-man show Hugh Jackman: Back on Broadway, and the drama A Steady Rain opposite Daniel Craig. In addition to serving as Tony Awards host for three consecutive years from 2003 - 2005 (his second appearance earned him an Emmy Award, and the final an Emmy nomination), Jackman brought his skills to Hollywood where he hosted the Academy Awards in 2009.
In the musical's first song, Valjean is called from a chain gang of prisoners to be released. Javert hands him his yellow passport and when Valjean says that he only stole a loaf of bread and spent nineteen years in prison for this, Javert reminds him that fourteen years were for having "tried to run." Javert calls Valjean only by his number, 24601, Valjean insists on being called by his real name.
After leaving the prison, Valjean dreams of a bright future, but swears not to forget those nineteen years in prison. He finds work at a farm, but gets paid only half the wages. An inn also refuses to take him in. Valjean has to realise that he will remain an outcast. Only the bishop of Digne takes him in, but Valjean repays his kindness by stealing his silver.
Valjean Arrested, Valjean Forgiven
He does not get far after the theft. Two constables bring him back to the bishop, who lies by saying he had given Valjean the silver as a gift, and then gives him two silver candlesticks. After the constables leave, the bishop tells Valjean that he has now bought Valjean's soul and given it to God.
What Have I Done? (Valjean's Soliloquy)
Valjean's first large solo. Valjean is confused by the bishop's actions, claiming that there was only one way for Valjean to go ever since he was first condemned for stealing a loaf of bread. Nevertheless, the bishop's trust in him makes him decide to find another way. At the end of the song, he rips up his yellow passport.
At The End Of The Day
Eight years later. In a factory in Montreuil-sur-Mer, a fight breaks loose and the owner of the factory and mayor of the city comes to stop it. It is up to the spectator to recognise that Valjean is the mayor.
After Javert has arrested Fantine for assaulting a man, the mayor orders him to let Fantine go. Fantine does not believe in the mayor's sudden kindness, claiming that it was him who allowed the foreman to send her away from the factory and causing her misery. Valjean realises what has happened and decides to care for Fantine. She is taken to a hospital.
The Runaway Cart
Directly afterwards, a runaway cart crashes and traps a man underneath. As the people around hesitate to help, Valjean slips under the cart and lifts it on his back. Javert, who witnesses the scene, feels reminded of a man he knew years ago, a convict who had the same strength as the mayor. However, this man has just been arrested and awaits his trial.
Who Am I?
After Javert has left, Valjean soliloquizes about the course of action he should take. He first rejoices at the thought of not having to worry about being arrested, but then realises that he cannot have an innocent man being condemned in his place, reasoning that God has once given him strength and will do so again. At the trial, he reveals his true identity and proves it by showing the convict brand on his chest.
Come To Me (Fantine's Death)
Fantine is very ill and hallucinating. Valjean returns from the trial and promises to take care for her child, just before she dies.
Javert arrives to arrest Valjean, triumphing. Valjean begs him to grant him three days' time to fetch Fantine's child, promising to return, at which Javert scoffs. As Javert makes his beliefs about criminals clear, that a man who has fallen once can never redeem himself, Valjean reminds Javert of his strength, claiming that he would not hesitate to kill Javert. After renewing his promise to Fantine, he knocks Javert out and flees.
The Bargain/The Waltz of Treachery
In the forest at a well, Valjean has met the badly-treated Cosette, Fantine's child. He follows her to the Thenardiers' inn, where he announces that he promised to Fantine to take care of her child. The Thenardiers' start to haggle for a price, claiming that Cosette cost them so much money and even faking worry about Valjean probably having bad intentions with the child. Valjean ends up giving them 1500 francs and takes Cosette with him.
The Robbery/Javert's Intervention
Nine years later in Paris. Valjean arrives to fall into a trap set up by Thenardier, who in the following brawl gets a look at the convict brand on Valjean's chest. As Javert arrives, Valjean manages to escape with Cosette, before Javert recognises him.
In My Life
At their house in the Rue Plumet, Cosette sings about Marius. Valjean enters and Cosette starts to ask him questions about the past which he refuses to answer. Attack On Rue Plumet
Valjean arrives after the departure of Marius and Thenardier's gang, since he heard Eponine scream. Cosette claims that is had been her since she saw shadows moving in the street. Valjean believes that Javert has found him again and decides that it is no longer safe to stay in France. He announces to Cosette that they shall go to England.
One Day More
Valjean gets the first few lines in the song, singing about his hopes to live in peace at last, once he is in England. During the rest of the song, he and Cosette pack a suitcase.
At The Barricade (Upon These Stones)
At the barricade, Marius has given Eponine a letter, which she delivers to Valjean, who promises to pass it to Cosette. He reads it however and so discovers Cosette's love for Marius.
Night Of Anguish (Sometimes known as Valjean At The Barricades)
Valjean arrives in an army uniform. The students point out to him that he seems to old to fight, but Valjean insists on staying. The students show him Javert, bound to a chair, and warn him that if he should be another spy, he too will not live.
The First Attack
During the first attack, Valjean shows his superior shooting skills by shooting a sniper who had just missed Enjolras. This is a direct contradiction of the book, where it is emphasised that he did not kill anybody. As Enjolras thanks him, Valjean asks Javert's life as a reward, so Enjolras allows him to shoot Javert. However, Valjean cuts Javert's bonds and tells him to go. Javert encourages him to go through with it, telling him that he believes that Valjean will forever stay a thief and that he, Javert, will continue to hunt him. Valjean tells him that he is wrong and finishes by giving his address in case that he should get out alive. He unloads his rifle into the air after Javert leaves.
Drink With Me (silent)
Though Valjean does not sing in this song, it is important, because it allows him to find out who Marius is as the latter sings about his love for Cosette.
Bring Him Home
During the night, Valjean prays to God and asks him to save Marius, even if that would mean his, Valjean's, death. This is probably the most famous of Valjean's solos, but it contradicts the book most strongly. In the book, Valjean came to the barricades without a real decision what to do if he should find Marius and actually harbours such hate against him that he seems to wish for his death.
The Second Attack (Death Of Gavroche)
During the second attack, the rebels run out of ammunition. Marius proposes to get some from the dead bodies on the other side of the barricade, but Enjolras holds him back. Valjean offers to go, but Gavroche is faster. He climbs over the barricade where he gets shot and killed.
The Final Battle (silent)
After the shooting dies down, Valjean wakes from unconsciousness to find Marius badly wounded and barely alive. He searches for an escape route and finds a manhole down to the sewers where he takes Marius just before Javert arrives.
The Sewers/Dog Eats Dog
Valjean arrives with an unconscious Marius just as Thenardier is about to rob a corpse. Valjean loses consciousness and Thenardier proceeds to rob Marius, taking a ring and his watch. Just as he turns to Valjean, he wakes. Thenardier recognises him and runs. Valjean takes Marius again and carries him through the sewers until they arrive at an outlet by the Seine. But Javert is already waiting. Valjean begs again for an hour to bring Marius to a hospital, promising to come quietly afterwards. This time Javert agrees and Valjean leaves.
Every Day/A Heart Full Of Love (Reprise)
Valjean arrives in the middle of a love scene between Cosette and Marius and decides not to stand in the way of their happiness.
A very happy Marius asks Valjean to come and live with them, but Valjean decides that first, there is something Marius needs to know. He tells his life story in short (only about being an ex-convict and a parole violator) and says that he has to leave. Marius asks him to stay, saying that Cosette will not believe any reason for her father's disappearance. Valjean makes Marius promise never to tell Cosette about this, a word which Marius gives only reluctantly.
Valjean's Death/Finale/Do You Hear The People Sing? (Reprise)
At the time of the wedding, a strongly aged Valjean prays for Cosette and Marius. The arrival of Fantine's ghost marks his near death, which gets postponed by the arrival of Cosette and Marius, who has just learned the identity of his saviour. Valjean hands Cosette his written confession and dies in her arms. Eponine's ghost then joins him and Fantine, then all the students and rebels who died at the barricade return as ghosts for the finale.