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BEYOND THE BARRICADE: LES MIS Film Cast Talks Singing Live on Set and the New Song

BEYOND THE BARRICADE: LES MIS Film Cast Talks Singing Live on Set and the New SongChristmas can't get here fast enough, because that's when LES MISERABLES hits the big screen. The movie, directed by Oscar winner Tom Hooper, features Hugh Jackman as 'Jean Valjean', Anne Hathaway as 'Fantine', Russell Crowe as 'Javert', Amanda Seyfried as 'Cosette,' Eddie Redmayne as 'Marius,' Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen as 'the Thenardiers.'

Stars of the film Jackman, Hathaway, Barks, Redmayne, and Seyfried chatted with the press about their experience, and in this edition they cover what it was like singing live on set, adding a new song to the score, and more! Check out the interview below:

My question come from “Gleekout” and she is 12--Gleekout says that in Glee we see the musicians playing music.  Where are the musicians and what are you singing to?

SB:  We all have an earpiece in our ears and we can hear the piano and the piano is in a box, just off set.  When we watch the film we can see this big sweeping orchestration but actually we could hear in our ears only the tiny tinny piano, so we had to use our imagination to create these epic orchestrations.  But, it was funny, because if you don’t have the earpiece in, we all looked mad, like we were singing to nothing.

BEYOND THE BARRICADE: LES MIS Film Cast Talks Singing Live on Set and the New Song

AS:  Did you ever forget that you were singing on set?  Because you only do hear a teeny, teeny bit of this electric piano, and it was kind of neat, it was such a strange experience, like I’ve never experienced before, because you really are--you’re singing your emotions, you’re singing your feelings and thoughts when you’d normally be speaking them [unintelligible—19:42] And it’s good that we didn’t hear the orchestra, because the orchestra didn’t really exist at that point.

ER:  The other thing that’s sort of the unsung heroes of the film in some ways, were our two accompanists, Roger and Jennifer.  We would have one scene and then go off and someone else would come in.  They would have every single take flawlessly and with the most stunning sensitivity.  Suddenly halfway through a phrase I decided to stop because I felt like it [laughter] and they stuck with me.  Of course they were replaced by this 70, 80-piece orchestra.  But, their contribution--I think Hugh described it as the other character, they were extraordinary across the board.

BEYOND THE BARRICADE: LES MIS Film Cast Talks Singing Live on Set and the New Song

I saw the film--I love this film, I love everything that you all did.  Singing live, you get to sing a brand new number, can you talk about the song?

HJ:  The song emanated from Tom Hooper’s realization in the book--again, Victor Hugo talks about two lightning bolts of realization for Jean Valjean.  One is of virtue which is the Bishop; one is of love when he meets Cosette.  And, it describes that for the first time in this fifty-one year old man’s life, he experiences love.  I’m not sure any of us can ever say we’ve experienced that, but Tom said “This is one of the most incredibly dramatic moments ever written and we don’t have a song for that?  How did we miss that?”  And it propels the entire second half of the movie for Jean Valjean, and also adds a complexity which Tom is about, which was really about--it’s not just sympathy, he doesn’t just look after Cosette--he’s terrified, he’s full of love and anxiety like every parent, and it’s a beautiful kind of impulse.  So, he asked the guys to write a song and I think I’ll count it definitely as one of the great honors in my life, to have these two incredible composers to write a song with your voice in mind.  I’ll never forget first singing it, I felt like I’d been singing it my whole life, it was an incredible honor.

Photo Credit: Universal Pictures

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