The Daily Mail's Baz Bambigoye reports that not only is Hooper imminently set to conclude negotiations and begin scripting with Bill Nicholson but that producer Cameron Mackintosh is already championing British opera tenor Alfie Boe for the lead role of Jean Valjean, the heroic ex-convict protagonist whose road to redemption drives the tale, and wants the artist to screen test. If Boe -- who has already won acclaim in the role when he starred in a 25th anniversary concert of the production -- or someone of his calibre were to score the lead part, producers "would have to compensate" with big names slotted in as supporting players; a notion that may very well set off a major Hollywood casting haul.
"There are a number of well-known actors who can sing, and we have to evaluate them," an "executive working on the film" told Bamigboye. "The question is: Who are the potential tenors to play Valjean? And who are the potential baritones to play Javert? For instance, what do we know about the vocal range of someone like Robert Downey Jr.? We know he can sing, but what’s his voice like? Is he a tenor or a baritone? Same with Kevin Spacey, Sean Penn, Michael Sheen, Benedict Cumberbatch and Keanu Reeves."
Other names discussed in the report include Hugh Jackman, Vincent Cassel and Michael Fassbender (though they seem more like Bambigoye's own suggestions) with some names from Hooper's own wishlist apparently being thrown out there including Colin Firth as a contender for Javert, Helena Bonham Carter or Laura Linney for Madame Thenardier, Timothy Spall as her husband, Anne Hathaway as Eponine and Marion Cotillard as Fantine.
Most of this seems very speculative, exploratory and premature but Bambigoye is more often than not a strong voice in the British film industry so we're inclined to take this on board as an early indicator of what's to come. More importantly, it is noted that there will be "no motion picture if the right actors can’t be found to play the main leads of Jean Valjean, the heroic ex-prisoner, and Inspector Javert, his relentless pursuer" though, for the Oscar-winning Hooper, we don't think it should be a major problem to attract an appropriate cast. If they can put it all together, the Universal and Working Title film could get underway as early as next year.
As for Boe, here's a ready-made audition tape for him.