Of all the names in Tom Hooper’s upcoming adaptation of the beloved stage musical Les Misérables, the one casual fans might not recognize right away is that of Samantha Barks who plays Eponine. Though the 22-year-old has plenty of experience on stage in England, she’s not yet a household name in the United States. That’s probably all going to change when the film opens on Christmas Day.
Growing up on the tiny Isle of Man, Barks followed her musical theater dreams to London when she was just 16. There she appeared on the BBC talent show I’d Do Anything in the hope of winning a part as Nancy in the West End revival of the stage musical Oliver!. Coming in third, Ms. Barks left quite an impression on producer Cameron Mackintosh and on Andrew Lloyd Weber. From there, she won the lead role of Sally Bowles lead in a touring production Cabaret. After that, she spent a year playing Eponine on stage and then appeared in the Les Misérables 25th Anniversary Concert in 2010. In 2011 she finally got her chance to play Nancy in Oliver! and it was then that she found out from producer Mackintosh that she’d won the part of Eponine in Hooper’s film, a part she’d dreamt of playing since she was a little girl.
I spoke to Samantha a few weeks back when she was in Los Angeles promoting the film. The nice thing about talking to her is that she’s still relatively new to the whole press tour game. She’s still excited and fresh and unguarded. Unlike many stars who’ve been at this a long time, she doesn’t come across as jaded or overly coached. A fast talker, she’s open and honest and she’s got an infectious enthusiasm.