It's hard to tell if Anne Hathaway is joking when she says she wanted to get a tattoo to commemorate her experience on Les Miserables. The inspiration struck when the cast was at a Q&A for a screening on Manhattan's 6th Avenue, where there's about four tattoo parlors per block-- co-star Eddie Redmayne joked that Hugh Jackman could have been tattooed with Jean Valjean's 24601, and then the rest of the cast down the line: "24601, 24602."
OK, Hathaway was definitely joking, but it's not hard to imagine this cast making that kind of Lord of the Rings-style commitment to each other. They may have only shot a single film together, but it was clearly an intense experience, with weeks of rehearsal leading up to the shoot and hard days of sobbing while singing on camera. As Hathaway puts it, it was "Camp Les Mis." And a lot of that bonding started in song, though not what they were singing on set-- it was jam sessions at Russell Crowe's house that really sealed the deal. Let Hathaway take it from here:
The person who was the beginning of the glue we developed was Russell. You cannot underestimate Russell's contribution and influence on this cast. He was the first person to say, "Hey everyone come to my house on Friday." That was such a key part of the process. Up to that point we were in rehearsal, spending all day crying, but I don't think we and gotten to the point where we thought of song as a way of communicating with each other. Russell let us approach it, through those nights he let us approach it from a completely different perspective. This is the language we speak, this is our shared experience.
Want to know more details about those sing-alongs? So did we, and Samantha Barks-- the West End veteran whose performance as Eponine is her screen debut-- was happy to reveal that she and Hathaway sang "Take Me Or Leave Me" from Rent (Barks was Maureen, Hathaway was Joanne). Amanda Seyfried sang Adele songs, and if you think that's a karaoke challenge even for talented singers, check out Seyfried's pipes in the film for proof she can probably handle just about anything.
That camaraderie extended on to the set as well, of course, including when Hathaway did something for Jackman that the movie veteran swears he's never seen on any set:
One of the first days of liming I was singing that number in the church ["Valjean's Soliloquy"], I came up the winding stone steps and Annie was at the top there, and she came over and was hugging me, and she said 'I'm not going to miss this for the world." I've never known that on the film before. It had the feeling of the closest stage show I've ever been involved with, but it was a film, which is unusual."If you're wondering just how a movie managed to capture the intimate feeling of a stage show-- when you're spending months or even years working with people in tight quarters-- you might have to credit Les Miserables itself, which has millions of fans all over the world, including the cast of the movie itself. Hathaway explains:
It cannot be overstated: we are all massive Les Mis geeks, from before the movie. And we're all slightly worried that this is not really happening. We're all kind of in some strange, odd mutual trip and we're hallucinating.
Keep coming back for more from Hathaway, Jackman and the rest of the Les Mis cast, and see the film in theaters for yourself on December 25.