‘Les Mis’ Director Tom Hooper: “Great acting is about being in control of the medium at the time”
Les Misérables has been a hit with audiences, even those who aren’t fans of musicals (it has already broken into the list of top 10 highest grossing musicals of all time). Oscar-winning director Tom Hooper, who directed the film adaptation of the beloved musical, spoke about shooting the film at the Palm Springs International Film Festival and about working Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway, including why the decision to record all the singing live was the right one.
Hooper pointed out that the musical’s “singing dialogue” was no issue for Jackman. He explained, “The Hugh Jackman audition took place last May in New York and it was an extraordinary three hours. When Hugh sings, he’s so comfortable communicating through song that you don’t want to hear him speak. Hearing him sing was the best place to be… The other thing I noticed was that Hugh had an emotional side to himself that I had never seen before.”
He also spoke about the decision to have the actors record all the singing live (something that pretty much everyone agrees was extraordinary… except Adam Lambert). He said, “Great acting is about being in control of the medium at the time. Because great acting is about you being the author or creator of the dialog or songs you were given to play and to sell that illusion you’re inventing and the joy of doing it live allows you create the moment of invention.” As evidence, he pointed to Hathaway’s performance of one of the musical’s most enduring songs. He said, “In ‘I Dreamed A Dream,’ Annie sings and then there’s a long pause, and then says, ‘But it all went wrong.’ In that pause, she’s communicating everything that happened to her: How she’s been raped, how she had her hair cut and everything that’s gone wrong with her life. In musical terms that should have been a moment, but Annie takes ten seconds and earns that moment.”