Oscar-winner Russell Crowe was subjected to a rigorous audition in New York for the role of Javert, the ruthless policeman who spends his life hunting Jean Valjean, the former prisoner endeavouring to build a new life, played by Hugh Jackman.
‘It was held in this classic Broadway rehearsal room with a piano in the corner, mirrors on the walls, a dance bar along the side,’ says Crowe.
‘I got there and asked if I could have a few minutes to prepare.
‘They said yes and all trooped out. I sang Old Man River as a warm-up. And it went really well.
‘Then I went to the door to get them and they all fell in the rehearsal room like the Keystone Cops – they’d been listening at the keyhole.
‘It had been a long time since I had faced that kind of auditioning process where there was a lot on the line.
‘My audition song was Stars, Javert’s principal ballad.
‘All those months of preparation paid off. I got all the notes down and I was flying.’
Along with the rest of the cast, Crowe wasn’t told he’d be required to sing every take completely live until he arrived for work at Pinewood Studios in February this year. Hooper said he wanted to capture the raw emotion of their performances each time.
Each actor was fitted with a hidden earpiece and while singing was accompanied by an out-of-camera-shot pianist who only they could hear.
Crowe, a singer/songwriter all of his adult life, found the experience gruelling.
‘You do a Broadway show and you might sing for 21 minutes if you are a leading character, and you’ll hit your notes once. On Les Mis we were singing a song 23 times from beginning to end.
‘Sometimes you were singing from 7am until 2am the following morning. It required a rock ’n’ roll kind of stamina.’
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