Wednesday, May 22, 2024

“Les Miserables” Producer: “We Didn’t Need” Taylor Swift in Movie


“Les Miserables” is a box office blockbuster. Our PAULA SCHWARTZ reports that Kennedy chasing, celebrity-boyfriend-songwriter country singer Taylor Swift auditioned for the role of Eponine but  lost out to Samantha Barks, the only unknown in the starry cast that includes Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried and Eddie Redmayne.

Cameron Mackintosh told Paula at a party for the movie that the famous singer-songwriter had been interested in the role. “She’s a lovely woman and she auditioned, and she was completely un-starry. And she’s talented. It’s just that actually the requirements of that role were better fitted by Sam.”

“Every single person in this film, whether they’re known or unknown, auditioned for this movie,” Mackintosh said. “Nearly every name you’ve heard in the gossip columns are true, came up for Eponine, and it’s wonderful I think that somebody completely unknown got it.”

As for the big-name factor Swift could bring to the show, the producer said, “We didn’t need it. Les Misérables is the star.” It’s run for 27 years, and in 2014 “Les Miserables” is  slated to return to Broadway.

Barks came to the producer’s attention in 2008 when he and Andrew Lloyd Webber did a television show called “I’d Do Anything.” The show was a talent search for a Nancy to play opposite Rowan Atkinson in Oliver. Barks got into the quarterfinals but she didn’t win because, the producer said, she was too young for the role. He later cast her as Eponine on London’s West End for a year. And now she’s playing Nancy in ‘Oliver.” It was during a curtain call in January after the show that Mackintosh came on stage and announced that Tom Hooper had chosen Barks to play Eponine in his film. “Now she’s playing Nancy for me, and I’ve given her three weeks off to publicize the [movie],” Mackintosh explained.

Barks, who grew up in the same Isle of Man,  moved to London when she was 16 to go to drama school. She never imagined the success or opportunities that would come to her as a result of coming in third on the television show. “To be experiencing things like singing with Liza Minnelli, singing with Idina Menzel, having one on one mentors like them. I never dreamed that that would happen to me, so I just left kind of wide eyed and excited I got to experience that. I never thought one day that here I’d be promoting a film I’m just so proud of,” she said. “I’m so proud to have played Eponine on such a scale like this film. I started auditioning when I was 18 and now I’m 22, so, really, for the last four years it’s been the most consistent part of my life.”

She also heard the rumors of big names that auditioned for the part of Eponine but blocked it out of her mind. “My main aim to not think about that,” Barks explained. “I had enough to think of. This was the biggest opportunity of my life so I just had to throw my full heart and soul into being as good as I could in the audition room and try not to focus on any other aspects of that.”

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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