The length of Pitt St Mall in Sydney was lined with a bright red carpet, the longest in Australia by two metres, to welcome home Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe for the Australian premiere of Les Misérables last night. Before Hugh and Russell arrived, hundreds of fans (and passing Christmas shoppers) were treated to the sounds of the QANTAs choir, who sang Christmas carols and iconic songs from the musical. Hugh and Russell looked handsome in matching tuxedos for the black tie affair and did their press duties together, often crossing to the other side to take photos with fans.
We were on the red carpet to chat with the actors, as well as the film’s producers and Oscar-winning director Tom Hooper, who helmed The King's Speech.
On how they would convince someone who isn’t a fan of musicals to see the movie:
Russell: "Well this isn’t really a musical. All the dialogue is sung, for sure, but it’s not a musical that you may have come to understand before. As you’re probably well aware of, every take is sung live, and that’s never actually been done on a musical of this scale in a film. The key thing with this, is that the reason why Victor Hugo’s book has been made so many times — I think 34, 35 major films, the success of the musical over 27 years — there’s something really special in this story, something really human and gigantic in this story that touches everybody. So that’s what I would say."
Hugh: "And actually, 60 million people have seen the stage show. And [producer] Cameron Macintosh was saying, of all the musicals this one attracts more people who never go to the theatre, or people who normally say, ‘I won’t go to a musical.’ The story is incredible — it’s one of the great stories of all time."
Russell: "See, you don’t really break Les Mis down into songs; it was never like a series of hit songs. The music became standard straight away, because people who love this love it because it’s one, big, long operatic breath. And that’s what Tom Hooper has pulled off with the movie as well."
Tom on how he hopes Les Mis will set a precedent for future musicals: " I really hope people rethink how they do their musicals from now on. It’s much more real and visceral, and believable. I think sometimes people who find musicals different don’t quite believe the world they create, and the key thing when you do a musical is you’re creating an alternative reality where people communicate through song. You have to make it utterly convincing, and singing live really helps them suspend their disbelief and just get into the story."