Entertainment & Arts

Les Miserables: Stars out for world premiere of film musical

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Media captionStars out on the red carpet in London for film world premiere

Stars of the new Les Miserables film, including Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway, have attended the world premiere in central London.

Director Tom Hooper - who won an Oscar for the King's Speech - hopes his film will win over people who avoid musicals, he said at the event.

The film is based on the long-running stage musical that has been seen by 60 million people worldwide.

Hooper said: "I wanted to invite all 60 million fans here tonight."

In the event, it was some 3,000 guests who braved a chilly night in the West End to watch the film in two of Leicester Square's largest cinemas.

Among them were the cast of the West End stage production who were given the night off to attend the premiere.

Based on Victor Hugo's epic French novel, Les Miserables is set against social and political upheavals in 19th Century France.

Image caption Australian actor Hugh Jackman plays hero Jean Valjean

Crowe plays police inspector Javert who hunts Jackman's ex-convict Jean Valjean after he breaks parole.

Hathaway, who plays factory worker turned prostitute Fantine, had to lose almost two stone and have her hair cropped for the role.

She admitted: "It was very challenging to my vanity but as soon as it was done I was fine with it. It was for my job."

The musical features the songs I Dreamed A Dream, Bring Him Home, One Day More and On My Own.

Unusually for a musical film, the actors sang live on set instead of pre-recording their vocals in a studio.

Amanda Seyfried, who plays Cosette, admitted she found it a very different experience to miming in the Mama Mia movie.

"I'm not an accomplished singer, so I had some trouble with the stamina aspect of singing all day long," she said.

Image caption Anne Hathaway lost nearly two stones in weight and had her head shaved to portray tragic Fantine

Australian actor Hugh Jackman said London was the perfect place for the premiere, calling it the musical's "spiritual home".

"I know this is the quintessential French story, but the musical took hold here," he said.

He joked that it was not the first time he had duetted with co-star Crowe. "I've know Russell for years, and if you ever go to a Russell Crowe party you end up singing."

The film is released in the UK on 11 January 2013.

The cast also includes Eddie Redmayne as student Marius, Samantha Barks as Eponine (a role she also played on stage) and Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter as comedy villains the Thenardiers.

Redmayne said he underwent months of vocal coaching. "You couldn't drink - it was like an athletic workout. As soon as the film was over it was straight back to the pub!"

Tom Hooper, who won an Oscar in 2011, said the world premiere marked the end of a "very long and hard journey for the team".

Explaining his decision to make the actors sing live, he said: "I thought that was the key to making this an emotional and intense experience, and to bring all those people into the fold who are not sure a musical is for them.

"Trust me it will make you feel differently about the musical genre."

Image caption Amanda Seyfried and Eddie Redmayne play the lovers Cosette and Marius

Cameron Mackintosh, who produced the original London musical in 1985 and the new film, told the BBC on the red carpet: "If it wasn't for London embracing the show, despite iffy notices, we would not be here tonight."

Talking about the stage and film versions, he added: "It's not that one is better than the other. There's no substitute for a live performance done wonderfully well, but this film brings you close-ups that give you a bigger emotional dynamic, and parts of the story are far clearer.

"I do think the film has the same ability as the stage show to make people want to go back and see it again and again."

The original French stage version of Les Miserables - by lyricist Alain Boublil and composer Claude-Michel Schonberg - ran in Paris in 1980.

The London production, which opened in October 1985, has gone on to become the world's longest-running musical.

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