Now that we’ve had enough time to process Anne Hathaway chopping off all of her hair and dropping all that weight to play a dying prostitute in Les Miserables, we can focus on the actual movie. Of course all the theater kids who starred in their own high school productions of Les Mis already teared up when the first trailer came out, but the studio needs to also draw in people who may have only heard “I Dreamed A Dream” on Glee and have to be convinced to come see the movie on Christmas Day.
So the next big facet of this movie’s marketing push is emphasizing the fact that the entire cast recorded their songs live. Which is really impressive! Unlike most other productions where the actors record their songs months prior, instead stars Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, and Amanda Seyfried are singing their songs in the moment. As Eddie Redmayne points out, the old way you’d have to plan out exactly what your performance is going to be in the recording studio, and then recreate that emotion when you’re lip-syncing on camera three months later. Here, Jackman says, “I can take a little break, I can move on, I can speed it up, I can slow it down—which means I just have to worry about acting.”
Of course, the movie’s Eponine Samantha Barks is used to this phenomenon of singing live, having come from the British production of Oliver! before she was cast here. The featurette above is worth watching to see just how much it changes the mood on the set when the actors are actually belting out their lyrics and need to hit the right note without wasting too many takes. As Seyfried points out, ”When you’re doing a love scene as an actor, you just wish that there was music to help you get there.” I’d love to hear more from her on how this compares to starring in Mamma Mia! a few years back, and doing all of that (one would assume) pre-recorded.
“There seemed something selfish about trying to go for the ‘pretty’ version,” Hathaway adds. “So I just decided to apply the truth to the melody.” And by truth, she meant chopping off her hair.