The picture above was the face Hugh Jackman made when he found out he could start drinking water again. The now Golden-Globe-winning star notched up his first Oscar nomination for playing Jean Valjean in Les MisÃ©rables, which required him to build up (“but not like I’d been going to the gym”) and lose weight (“so that my friends wouldn’t recognize me”). To get the gauntness in his opening scene, he went so far as to not drink any liquids for 36 hours. Kids, do not try this at home.
It was all in line with playing what he says was the role of a lifetime. One, he told me, he prepared for, by tapping into Nelson Mandela’s experience. He does acknowledge the former president’s experiences were very much real, unlike that of the fictional legend of literature, but the part about emerging from prison to become a revered leader with no use for revenge certainly makes sense.
Playing Fantine in Les MisÃ©rables was also the dream role for Anne Hathaway – and a kind of cool full circle for the 30-year old actress. It was the last role her mom played before giving up acting to take care of her children full-time.
As for Russell Crowe, well, he says being in Les Mis was a purely selfish endeavour. Even though he’s an Oscar-winner, he still had to audition – no less after walking in the rain. That’s how much he wanted the role. He explains how that came to be:
And here, Hugh and Anne, talk more about making Les Miserables:
Les MisÃ©rables opens in South Africa today.