Excerpted from the Independent:
Les Misérables accounts for a fair chunk of that time. The evergreen Claude-Michel Schönberg musical is enjoying renewed popularity following Tom Hooper’s movie version, out now on DVD. In the adaptation, the role of the tragic Valjean goes to X-Men’s Hugh Jackman. He has been widely acclaimed for his turn. But at every opportunity Jackman has insisted Wilkinson will always remain the definitive Valjean.
The two struck up a friendship on the set of Hooper’s Les Mis, in which, acknowledging his importance to the musical, the Dubliner was cast as the Bishop of Digne. He came away from the experience with renewed admiration for the work ethic of Hollywood actors.
Sprawling across nearly three hours, the movie would have been a slog in any circumstances. An extra layer of complexity was added by Hooper’s decree that all the singing be recorded live on set.
“It was really weird,” says Wilkinson. “You had these tiny monitors in your ear because the camera couldn’t be allowed to see anything. And all you could hear was a little electric piano playing very faintly, a live track that you had to sing to. I remember one night we did a scene after dark at Winchester Cathedral and the guy playing the music was concealed behind a headstone.
“It was hard work. You are talking about calls at 6.30am, followed by 12-hour days. The person who set the bar was Russell Crowe. His work ethic was astonishing. You’d see him coming on to set and giving it his everything.
“You think, ‘well if he’s not complaining, I’m not complaining either’.”