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Opera Tenor Alfie Boe Being Eyed For The Role Of Jean Valjean In Tom Hooper's 'Les Misérables'

by Simon Dang
April 2, 2011 4:00 AM
38 Comments
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A Plethora Of Names Being Considered For Film Including Robert Downey Jr., Anne Hathaway & Marion Cotillard



Even though director Tom Hooper isn't yet totally committed to directing the film adaptation of Victor Hugo's iconic musical "Les Misérables," it seems like the producers are already eyeing talent for the potential project.

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.

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38 Comments

  • Dee Sherrill | June 1, 2012 7:25 PMReply

    Alfie Boe is the perfect one to be Jean Valijean in the upcoming film. Wilkinson, as shown, in the after show 25th anniversary was not able to hold a candle to Boe's voice. Wilkinson is past his prime. In the final song, with all the Jean Valijeans singing together Boe stole it from all of them due to his better voice. He MUST be chosen for the film.

  • d | June 1, 2012 8:23 PM

    Do you realize this article is over a year old? Not only has the film already been cast (Hugh Jackman plays Valjean) but the trailer was released a few days ago.

  • Michael Heavey | April 24, 2011 7:37 AMReply

    It is 15 years too late to cast the real Jean Valjean (aka Colm Wilkinson) but it would be a travesty if the role were now given to anyone other than Alfie Boe. His performance at the 25th Anniversary Concert should preclude all others from consideration. By the way, Victor Hugo's iconic Musical??? Good grief!

  • Wendy | April 12, 2011 11:04 AMReply

    Unknown?? Not since the O2 concert. The guy owns the role of Valjean now. One of his older CDs just sold for $50 on Ebay! He's not an over the top theater actor - his style is perfect for the screen. I think he would be wonderful in the role.

  • brenda wilkinson | April 8, 2011 1:46 AMReply

    I am a little offended on behalf of Alfie Boe Unknown ?Questionable cast ?We are talking a Tony Award winning star here. At the age of 25 Alfie won a Tony for his role as Rodolfo in La Boheme Get the 2009 Dvd version from Amazon and see why Then watch the O2 anniversary concert where the original ,and up to that point, the outstanding Jean Valjean handed over the role to the real Jean Valjean . Alfie Boe. Anyone else in this role in the forthcoming movie version is;Well in the words of Madame Thenadier "Don't make me laugh"

  • Emily | April 8, 2012 6:45 PM

    I totally agree! There is no one else who I have seen yet who can play JVJ like Alfie can. He is one of the best actor-singer combinations I've seen in a VERY long time, and is the best Valjean ever, in my opinion. John Owen-Jones comes close, but Alfie is absolutely astonishing!

  • graceson | April 7, 2011 6:07 AMReply

    To answer the question of why this has to be a musical...Because that is what Les Mis is. That is what this movie produced by Sir Cameron Mackintosh is.
    That said, the lead role of Jean Valjean must be both singer and actor who is able to interpret the role from his soul . He must BE Valjean. Only one man has that depth. ALFIE BOE. In a concert setting he transformed before our eyes and took the viewer on Valjean's journey to redemption,love,sacrifice,spiritual growth....and the list goes on. Read his face, watch his body language, and most of all Listen..Listen as he sings his way to God.
    Tom Hooper: Who else do you know who can do all that???

  • Emily | April 8, 2012 6:46 PM

    I agree! Alfie IS Valjean!

  • Kerry Holmes | April 7, 2011 1:00 AMReply

    No doubt about it. Alfie's the one!

  • Marja | April 6, 2011 10:53 AMReply

    There can be no other choice than Alfie Boe!!

    He has a gorgeous voice and he has proven he can act at the O2 arena.

    Alfie is getting well known by his performance in Les Mis this year and his BHH tour.

  • Sylvia Ridgewell | April 6, 2011 9:26 AMReply

    There is no other choice - Alfie Boe is Jean Valjean.

    I have seen most of the others who have played the part in the UK and there is nobody better than him. He has the voice, the charisma, the camera loves him and he acts with true emotion.

    He is no longer an unknown on the world stage - so why hesitate?

  • Daphne Moorhead | April 6, 2011 3:00 AMReply

    There can be no one else to play the role of Jean Valjean. it has to be Alfie Boe. He has the most beautiful voice and the passion and emotion he displayed in the role at the 25th Anniversary concert was witnessed by everyone. I could not bear to see the film version without Alfie, it would be disastrous.

  • Karen Corcoran | April 6, 2011 1:22 AMReply

    Alfie Boe has my vote! After seeing the O2 concert, how could they choose anyone else? I probably won't see the movie unless Alfie is cast as JVJ.

  • PB | April 5, 2011 3:55 AMReply

    We're talking integrity here; this is a MAJOR work with a long, credible history which requires credible people to give the work the integrity it not only requires but demands. No offence intended to some of the names suggested, but let's get real. It's about getting the right people for the job. That means people who can sing as well as act (Les Mis is, after all, a modern-day opera) preferably those who have a proven track record with this work. For that reason having anyone else as Jean Valjean other than Alfie Boe is inconceivable, after the O2 concert in October2010. For the other parts, look to the excellent artists who have taken part or who are doing so now now in the stage production. Let's do this right or not at all - getting it even slightly wrong would be in reality to get it seriously wrong and do major damage to the integrity, history and credibility of Les Mis.

  • Dawn_Razor | April 4, 2011 7:15 AMReply

    "Victor Hugo's iconic musical"?! Is that a joke? Because if not it's the worst piece of writing I've read for weeks.

  • Andrea Berkelaar Moorhead | April 4, 2011 4:33 AMReply

    I'm not sure which way round to put it - Alfie Boe was born to play this role or this role was created for Alfie Boe.....He owns this role He is convincing as an actor and has an amazing voice Simply the man for the job ...no one else can fill his shoes for this role .....

  • Anonymous | April 3, 2011 12:55 PMReply

    marion as fantine this might be a dream! terrific choice

  • babz | April 3, 2011 11:25 AMReply

    I won't watch if Alfie Boe is not cast as Jean Valjean. That's just how I feel. If it's going to be done, it must be done properly.

  • Nancy Patterson | April 3, 2011 11:17 AMReply

    There is no other choice. Alfie Boe is Valjean!!! If you have Robert Downey Jr or Sean Penn, I won't watch, let alone buy the movie!!! I can see Keanu Reeves as Marius.

  • Renee | April 3, 2011 11:00 AMReply

    I just watched the O2 concert with Alfie. He MUST be cast as Val Jean! I have the 1985 show also with Colm Wilkinson and believe that Alfie is JUST as good as Colm was in the original. Let the movie be made with the BEST performers who already know how to sing the music correctly and not by actors who need coaches and subs to hit the notes cleanly.

  • Yet another Les Mis fan | April 3, 2011 10:37 AMReply

    Do the movie right or not at all. Alfie Boe for Valjean, please. Hugh Jackman as Javert. And I think Marion Cotillard would be a great choice for Fantine. :)

  • Ann Warren | April 3, 2011 9:11 AMReply

    I don't understand why there is any doubt about who should be cast as Jean Val Jean there will never be anyone that can better Alfie Boe's performance in a million years!

  • a | April 8, 2012 9:08 PM

    Emily - they've already cast Hugh Jackman as Valjean. Check when this was posted.

  • Emily | April 8, 2012 6:49 PM

    In my mind, there is no doubt. Cast Alfie as Valjean, already!

  • Deborah Keough | April 3, 2011 9:10 AMReply

    I will not support the movie unless Alfie is cast as JVJ. This is a no brainer!!

  • Virginia Gutierrez | April 3, 2011 7:14 AMReply

    Alfie is the right choice! He is gaining popularity and reknown because of his talent and what that brought to the role of Valjean in the 25th anniversary concert. He is only going to enhance the production, no matter if people go because they know his name already, or because they love the story. If they aren't familiar with him, they will certainly take notice of him if he is cast! I'd go to see a movie with him starring just to see the emotion he expresses from the character's perspective. My vote is ALFIE!

  • lallen | April 3, 2011 7:12 AMReply

    Alfie Boe IS Jean Valjean!!

    The debate of casting an unknown with a beautiful voice against casting a known for the Hollywood value reminds me of the early 60's. Nobody knew Julie Andrews who had been playing Eliza Doolittle on the stage. When they went to cast the movie version, they went with Audrey Hepburn for the "star quality". Of course...this ended up freeing up the "unknown" Julie Andrews for Mary Poppins who then went on to win the Best Actress Oscar. Not to bad for an "unknown".

  • linhiril | April 3, 2011 3:38 AMReply

    Beg pardon: Alfie Boe is no longer "unknown," thanks to PBS. Cast the wrong people in the major roles, and the movie will tank just like the movie of "Phantom" did because ALW did not cast Michael Crawford. If these guys want the world-wide ready made audience that they are counting on, frankly, they will have to cast people who are acceptable to the people who make up that audience. "Those who do not learn from the mistakes of history are condemned to repeat them."

  • jkribbit | April 3, 2011 1:16 AMReply

    Alfie Boe is the only choice for Jean Valjean. The amount of singing - and the level of difficulty - require a trained singer. Alfie Boe has proven his acting chops in the 25th Anniversary Concert as well - and that wasn't a staged production - it was a concert! I understand the need to use "names" to get backing, but the role of Jean Valjean isn't something that you can accept less than the best on. Alfie Boe is definitely the man for the role!

  • Louetta | April 2, 2011 12:51 PMReply

    I have watched all of the Les Miserables movies back to black & white versions. The last version with Liam Neeson, a great actor, was good, but it lacked the passion that Alfie Boe brought to the character! I think Alfie Boe embodies the character and I think he is the only one that should be cast as Val-Jean. He already has a large fan base rooting for him to be casted as Jean-Val-Jean. It would be a mistake not casting him! If they need some other more well known stars, there are a lot of other roles. Alfie Boe is Jean Val-Jean!!

  • Ginny Heilemann | April 2, 2011 12:17 PMReply

    Colm Wilkinson was a relative unknown before he played Valjean when Les Miserables debuted in 1985. Alfie Boe was unknown to many of us before we saw the 25th Anniversary Concert. Check out Alfie Boe's popularity on Facebook and Twitter.He sold out Amazon,com in the US after the PBS showing of the O2 Concert during the month of March.

    Becoming a fan of Alfie Boe is instantaneous once you see him and hear his beautiful voice. You will find out more about his story, his love of family, his sense of humor, his smile.....then you are caught in the wonderful world of Alfie Boe. You will buy his CD's and DVD's. You will watch YouTube until 2 in the morning. You are smitten by Alfie Boe.

    Who else could do this? No one but Alfie Boe could play Valjean in the movie.

  • Pam B | April 2, 2011 12:13 PMReply

    If you've seen the 25th Anniversary Concert, you KNOW that Alfie Boe is the only choice to play Jean Valjean. If you haven't, just watch this video and you'll see why.

  • Gill | April 2, 2011 10:01 AMReply

    Alfie Boe HAS to be Jean Valjean. The man has the looks can act and has a fantastic voice. I agree with a previous comment if he isn't cast as Valjean then I'm not interested in the movie version.

  • Woirld-Traveler | April 2, 2011 8:59 AMReply

    Why not cast an unknown in the lead role? Every film actor had to start somewhere. Considering the vocal demands of the role it's important to have someone who can sing it, and Alfie Boe proved himself worthy of the role in the O2 Arena on October 3.

  • BuntyHoven | April 2, 2011 5:05 AMReply

    Can't see them casting an unknown (to movie audiences) in the lead role.

  • Castor | April 2, 2011 4:54 AMReply

    I don't get why they have to make this a musical. It would be a totally compelling film without having actors with questionable singing talent. erupt into songs.

  • Karen Golden | April 2, 2011 4:31 AMReply

    If Alfie Boe is not cast as ValJean, then I have no interest in the movie version.

    I will instead wear out the O2 concert version that I now own.

    Sincerely

  • lesmisfan | April 2, 2011 4:29 AMReply

    Love Alfie to be Valjean and Benedict Cumberbatch to be Javert

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