PLAYBILL BRIEF ENCOUNTER With Cameron Mackintosh; The Impresario Brings Les Miz to the Movies

By Kenneth Jones
02 Jan 2013

Aaron Tveit
Universal Pictures
The final image of Enjolras pays homage to the stage version without completely replicating it. As a fan, I loved that. I feel like my past experience was honored. Did you feel a responsibility for the fans when planning the movie?
CM: Yes. But the point is, Tom was full of admiration for the stagecraft of the show. What he wanted to do, as we wanted to do, was not film the stage show, but take the material of the stage show and remake it. To be honest, in the same way as Alain and Claude-Michel and I had to remake what, although I didn't see it, the original French version [was], which was half the material but we treated it like a new score. This is, as Alain said, "We're just going to work again 30 years later. Aren't we lucky?" Of course, there are many iconic things that Tom wanted to find his own version of, and some of the stuff — some of the iconic stuff — you can only do in the theatre.

I also love the magic, filmic, visual touches in the garden between Cosette and Marius — with the wisteria and the butterfly. Tiny, sensual details.
CM: Tom's eye is extraordinary—relentless, extraordinary and a supreme inventive.

Russell Crowe
Universal Pictures

Producer Debra Hayward told me that Russell Crowe came up with some moments in the film, like Javert walking on the edge of rooftops, paying homage to Gavroche in a memorable, wordless moment, and more. He brought ideas to Tom.
CM: I think it was Russell's idea to do what I call the Douglas Fairbanks/Errol Flynn confrontation [a kind of swordfight between Valjean and Javert in Fantine's sickroom], but that's brilliant. I went, "What a fabulous idea!" It's absolutely fabulous! And isn't it wonderful that a huge majority of that cast has all been born in the musical theatre?

I didn't know that Eddie Redmayne could sing.
CM: Well, you know who knew that? Claude-Michel knew him. It was his idea, and he rang me. Eddie reminded me [that] he started off in [my] Oliver! at the Palladium as a kid! [Laughs.] So many of them have this connection [to being fans of Les Miz], and this cast wanted to do Les Misérables. That's what makes Les Misérables special. Every cast wants to embrace it as theirs, you know.

Read the Playbill Stage to Screens column that takes a deeper look at the film, with notes, commentary and spoilers. 

(Kenneth Jones is managing editor of Follow him on Twitter @PlaybillKenneth.)