After beating the odds and winning the Oscar for Achievement in Directing last year, Tom Hooper has set his sights on quite a gigantic project. Hooper has never shied away from complicated, big-budget projects including HBO's "John Adams" miniseries and last year's Oscar triumph "The King's Speech," so the fact that he's moving forward with a film adaptation of "Les Miserables" for Universal is no surprise. We were surprised, however at just how fast the project is steaming ahead with Variety reporting today that Hugh Jackman is in talks for what we presume to be the lead role of Jean Valjean.
Jackman has long touted his love of the stage, starring in Broadway spectacles like "Oklahoma!" and "The Boy from Oz" and even performing a song-and-dance routine when he hosted the Oscars a few years back. If he officially signs on it will be his first major role in a Hollywood movie musical, and he'll be the first to board for Hooper's cast. While Universal wouldn't comment on Jackman's involvement, he's definitely a perfect fit for the role and an actor that will attract a large audience to a genre most steer clear of. Jackman will next star in "Real Steel," meaning he'll probably need some serious career rehabilitation afterwards.
Cameron Mackintosh, producer of the stage version of "Les Miserables," will produce the film adaptation as well, with a script penned by William Nicholson. Claude-Michel Schonberg's original score will of course be used, as it's one of the most famous musical compositions in theater history. Along with Mackintosh, Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner of Working Title Films will produce the legendary story, which focuses on escaped prisoner Jean Valjean's struggle to survive during the French Revolution.
Hooper has quite a task ahead of him, as there was a 1998 film version starring Liam Neeson, Geoffrey Rush and Uma Thurman that completely tanked critically and financially. Hopefully with Hooper's period background, he can take this adaptation to the next level; we've been needing a great movie musical for a while now.