Despite being well-known for his absolute love of musicals, Hugh Jackman has never appeared in a film version of a musical until this month’s Les Misérables, one of the most successful stage musicals of all time. Jackman explains to Movieline why doing a musical is harder than an X-Men movie… and it’s not because Jean Valjean, who he plays in Les Misérables, lacks retractable claws.
Jackman admits he has been waiting for the right role to make his big screen musical debut, but he never expected it would be in Les Misérables. He confesses, “I’ve dreamt of being in a movie musical for a long time. For some reason I never even thought Les Mis would be possible. It was so iconic, the role wasn’t even on my radar.”
One of the challenges of playing Jean Valjean was that Jackman would have to lose much of his “Wolverine” bulk to play the character. He explains that director Tom Hooper told him, “I want you unrecognizable. If you’re recognizable, I want your friends to think you’re sick.” In fact, despite starring in numerous big screen action roles Jackman claims that starring in a musical is actually more physically demanding. He says, “It’s weird coming from me, who’s played Wolverine, or has been in other action movies, you’d probably think, ‘at least a musical is going to be easy.’ But anyone who’s done a musical knows; whether you’re dancing or not, physically it’s the most difficult thing you can do.”
He continues, “Singing is incredibly physical. All of those things combined, as well as emotionally and vocally, it’s the most challenging thing, and usually all at once. It’s the kind of thing you want as an actor. You want to feel challenged. It’s good to feel uncomfortable. I’m really grateful, that’s the overwhelming feeling.”