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Video/Q&A: 'Les Miserables' stars Eddie Redmayne and Samantha Barks

(Lenny Gilmore / RedEye )
December 19, 2012|Matt Pais, @mattpais | RedEye movie critic

On a recent night in New York, “Les Miserables” stars Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried and Samantha Barks re-purposed their singing skills for something less epic—karaoke.

“Amanda was attempting some rap and then halfway in she goes, ‘How does this song go?’ We’re like, ‘You picked it! You picked the song!,’” recalls Barks, a veteran of London’s “Les Miz” stage musical making her film debut in the film from director Tom Hooper (“The King’s Speech”). “And then Annie gave an incredible rendition of ‘Don’t Rain On My Parade.’ And then I was like, ‘Can we just sing “Girls Just Want to Have Fun”?’ We were jumping from couch to couch. It was like 13-year-olds at a sleepover. We were like, (singing), ‘I come home, in the morning light!’ It was hilarious.”

Decades-old material likewise translates well in “Les Miz,” opening Dec. 25. Nearly all spoken communication is sung in this musical take on Victor Hugo’s classic story, in which Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) spends decades striving for redemption as Inspector Javert (Russell Crowe) firmly dedicates himself to the law. Hathaway plays single mother-turned-prostitute Fantine; Seyfried is Fantine’s grown daughter Cosette, who catches the eye of Marius (Eddie Redmayne of “My Week with Marilyn”); Barks plays Eponine, who falls for Marius.

At 7 a.m. at the Peninsula Hotel, Barks, 22 and Redmayne, 30—whose go-to karaoke songs are Meat Loaf’s “Bat Out of Hell” and Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”—talked about sacrificing for their roles, getting songs stuck in their head and singing without forcing people to look into their mouth.

Hugh Jackman went without water for 36 hours before the opening sequences. Anne Hathaway lost a lot of weight. Russell Crowe walked 28 blocks in the rain to audition. What’s something you guys felt like you sacrificed for these roles?
Eddie Redmayne: I can tell you what she sacrificed.
Samantha Barks: A combination of those things, I guess.
ER: Sam not only had to contest with the most hard-core corset you’ve ever seen—it was a sort of gravity defying thing in which her waist was about that small—but also she had to sing her song in the pouring rain whilst crying. So I think you win the prize … I think you take Jackman and Hathaway down!
SB: Lost a bit of weight, walked in the rain …

You didn’t make him put on a corset too to understand what you were going through?
ER: [Laughs.]
SB: I tried. I tried. But he wasn’t up for it.
ER: Yeah, I think Marius in a corset, that might make the fanatics question it a bit.

So what’s something you sacrificed, Eddie?
ER: Oh, God. I’m going to be totally honest. I remember sitting in rehearsals with Tom Hooper, the director, and he’d be like, “Where is everyone?” I’d be like, “They’re all in the gym.” [Laughs.] He’d be like, “Aren’t you the romantic lead? Shouldn’t you …” I’m like, “Yeah. I get to wear really smart costumes and hold a gun.”
SB: We’re all like a gang like, “Yeah, five pounds to go, woo-hoo, high-five!” [Laughs.]

Was someone leading the workout charge all together?
SB: We had a personal trainer and it was all done in a very healthy way. It was really nice because you got support there.
ER: What I found amazing, for this troupe of people who were all losing weight, I’ve never seen so much food being brought on set. When you do one of these things they make you eat constantly throughout the day, little nibbles of things. It was amazing to watch while I stuffed my face!
SB: A baked potato would go in his direction, he’d be like, “No!”

You sung “Les Miserables” songs over and over and surely had them in your head. What’s another pop song you can recall having in your head recently that you were like “get this out of here now!”
ER: Oh my god, there is an actual answer to this! [Laughs.]
SB: There is an actual perfect answer to this.
ER: Because we’ve been touring about various cities and as a group—Sam keeps humming this song brilliantly.
SB: You know when someone says a phrase ... and I went (singing Katy Perry’s “Wide Awake”), “I’m wide awake. Da da da da da da. Da da da da da da.” And I can’t stop doing it. We all finally go a few minutes without the song being mentioned and then it’s like (singing), “I’m wide awake!” I love Katy Perry but …

Is that the only line you know?
SB: That’s it. But then I go (singing), “I’m wide awake. Da da da da da da. Da da da da da da.” How annoying is that?

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