Hugh Jackman on Playing Jean Valjean in Les Miserables: ‘Every Day Was a Challenge’

at 12:10 pm | By

Sure, he’s hosted the Oscars and won a Tony for his performance in the Broadway smash The Boy From Oz, but even Hugh Jackman will admit that playing Jean Valjean in the movie-musical Les Misearbles wasn’t easy.

“Every day was a challenge,” Jackman, 44, told Celebuzz Tuesday night in downtown Manhattan, where he was being honored by the Museum of the Moving Image.

“I’m not saying it glibly,” he continued. “There was not a day when it wasn’t. Knowing that each day was the first and last time you’d ever sing that song and you had to nail it that day. So it had the feeling of an opening and closing night all at once.”

Well, the challenge appears to have paid off. Not only was Jackman nominated for a Screen Actors Guild award on Wednesday, his Les Miserables costars and director continue to sing his praises long after the film wrapped production.

“I hadn’t fully committed to doing the movie,” director Tom Hooper recalled. “In Hugh’s audition, I realized I had a film because he showed me it was possible to reinterpret these songs, to give them the power to make it work in the language of the cinematic experience.”

“Also I saw an emotional power, which I think he was able to access because he’s singing,” he continued. “When you sing, you use your whole body. With some actors, it gives them access to an emotional life that’s actually of a different quality then when they act with dialogue.”

“Believe everything you hear,” added Jackman’s co-star, Eddie Redmayne, who plays love-struck Marius in the movie. “He is the nicest man in the world but also he’s one of the most hard working.”

“His commitment and talent raised the game for all of us on this film,” Redmayne added. “He stepped up and we sort of had to step up to the mark.”

Les Miserables opens nationwide on Christmas Day.

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