The tale of love, redemption and social unrest that unfolds in 19th-century France — whose dialogue, along with such showstopping numbers as On My Own, is completely sung — will feature live performances instead of following the tradition of actors lip-syncing to a pre-recorded track.
Tom Hooper, Oscar-winning director of The King’s Speech, wouldn’t have it any other way.
“If you are miming to a playback, even if the synchronization is done very well, there is a part of you that knows something is off, something is false,” he says. “When it’s live, you believe it so much more. The actors have complete freedom rather than following a recording done three months before.”
Hooper says the results deliver those “spine-tingling moments” he appreciated when he saw the stage show.
(thanks to mikhail) More from the USAToday piece after the cut.
Featured is Anne Hathaway as Cosette’s self-sacrificing mother, Fantine, singing the ballad I Dreamed a Dream. “Anne has been an extraordinary exponent of singing live,” Hooper says. “Her I Dreamed aDream is just jaw-dropping. It is so raw and heartfelt. It’s done in a way you could never do in playback.”
Though the challenges might be greater for actors to sing take after take, the benefits are plentiful. “When you are doing miming, 60% of your energy is just doing it correctly,” says Jackman, who had to lip-sync his way through a 1999 TV film of Oklahoma! “Even though it is your performance, you don’t feel you are in charge of it.”
Seyfried, who mimed her songs in Mamma Mia!, appreciates the different approach in Les Mis. “The cool thing is, no one has been tested this way before. We all are doing something revolutionary.”
But she has to be more disciplined about protecting her voice than she did while dancing giddily on a Greek isle to ABBA pop tunes.
“You have to sing every day,” the classically trained soprano declares. “You can’t abandon it. Seriously, it is a lot of herbs. A lot of singing in the shower. No cigarettes. Very little alcohol if you can deal with it. You’ve got to be careful with cheese. It is intense, living as a singer.”
Seyfried assures that it is worth it to star in the show she fell in love with when she was 11. “I was literally on the edge of my seat the whole time,” she recalls. “My mom says it was the first time she’s ever seen me focus on something for more than a couple minutes. It is hard not to become addicted to the music.”
Producer Debra Hayward just appreciates being treated to what amounts to a concert each day. “It’s not like working on a normal film, when you come in listening to the same tired old lines. Singing is so elevating, it makes you happy.”