On Their Own: Tom Hooper’s ‘Les Miserables’ Cast to Record Vocals Live on Camera?

Let it never be said that director Tom Hooper doesn’t make some interesting choices when it comes to filming his projects for maximum veracity. His Oscar-winning hit The King’s Speech was shot on a former porno set (grit!), he used Colonial Williamsburg for a number of sets for his John Adams (gritty, in a different way!), and now it looks like he’s going full-hilt on his first musical feature.

Hooper’s next film is a full-scale musical feature version of the done-to-starving-death Les Miserables, and while a new take on Victor Hugo’s classic material doesn’t strike most people as necessary, Hooper is going to give the project its own spin to liven it up. No, no, he’s not going to make it some sort of bizarre “reimagining,” he’s going to make its stars actually sing. No, no, it’s much more interesting than that – he’s going to make them sing live. A “source close to the production” has told the Sun UK that “the director is determined to make the project as authentic as possible.” As such, “the cast will record their vocals live on camera rather than go into a studio first then mime on film to the pre-recorded vocal…First they have to learn the complex songs, then they’ll have to get it right on set in front of the other stars and crew.” This does provide a look inside Hooper’s vision for the film, which may be much more classically theatrical than first suspected.

Hooper has already lined up the bulk of his cast for the film – Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe will face off as Valjean and Javert, Anne Hathaway will play doomed prostitute Fantine, Sacha Baron Cohen is set for the role of the thief Thénardier, with Helena Bonham Carter on as his wife.

While most of Hooper’s stars (save for Bonham Carter and Cohen) have ever been in a full-scale musical feature, they all, strangely enough, have the chops for it. Jackman’s musical prowess is perhaps the most well-known, as he’s appeared on Broadway quite often, and even has a Tony Award under his dance belt. Hathaway’s panache for belting out tunes is well-documented, and Les Mis would be a nice warm-up for her long-teased Judy Garland biopic. Russell Crowe? Well, the Method actor also has his own band (Russell Crowe & The Ordinary Fear of God, naturally). And Cohen? While he’s not often associated with musical stylings, like Hathaway, he’s also got a gestating musical biopic on deck – he’s set to play Queen frontman Freddie Mercury. [Sun UK, via Cinema Blend]


Kate is an entertainment and culture writer and editor living in New York City. She is also a contributing writer for,,, Vulture,,, The Dissolve, Screen Crush, New York Daily News, Mental Floss, and amNY. Her previous work can also be found at MSN Movies, Boxoffice Magazine, and She lives her life like a French movie, Steve.

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