By Oliver Lyttelton | www.oliverlyttelton.com July 22, 2011 at 1:04AM
Paul Bettany Out, Helena Bonham Carter Also Joins The Cast
Of all the films in which two of the most rugged manly-men stars ever to come out of Australia (a country not lacking in rugged manly-men) could finally face-off, a period musical set against the background of the French revolution, from the director of "The King's Speech," is not the most likely. But the possibility now exists that Tom Hooper's "Les Miserables" may become that film, like a Southern Hemisphere take on "Heat," suddenly investing the adaptation of the long-running stage hit with more testosterone than the entire "Crocodile Dundee" trilogy put together.
Hugh Jackman, who mixes gruff superhero antics with on-stage singing and dancing, was said to be finally in talks to make his screen musical debut as Jean Valjean in "Les Miserables," and the always-reliable Baz Bamigboye has now talked to Jackman, who says he's firmly locked into the picture, saying that the film will shoot next February, once he's wrapped on James Mangold's "The Wolverine." Jackman seems to be looking forward to the prospect, saying that the film will introduce dialogue to the totally-sung-through stage version: "That's not going to work on film, so there's now dialogue and songs. Tom's take on the film is very exciting."
But buried at the bottom of the piece is an intriguing tidbit: Jackman's compatriot Russell Crowe is apparently "keen" to play Inspector Javert, the dogged policeman who makes it his mission to expose Jackman's reformed ex-convict Valjean. After a string of underperformers, Crowe seems to be taking a different, more intriguing approach to his career: he's lined up a villainous turn in RZA's kung-fu flick "The Man With Iron Fists" and is taking up Marlon Brando's mantle as Jor-El in Zack Snyder's "The Man of Steel," and a musical is about as big a departure as he could ask for. He can carry a tune, sort of, having spent his spare time as the frontman of bands 30 Odd Foot Of Grunts and The Ordinary Fear of God.
However, the Jackman/Crowe sing-off looks like it's still a long-shot: Bamigboye says that he believes that Crowe's pal, and co-star in "A Beautiful Mind" and "Master & Commander," Paul Bettany, is still the front-runner, having said to have met with Hooper a while back. Crowe is obviously still the bigger star, but with Hooper coming off an Oscar win, we're sure that if he wants Bettany, he'll get him. But if Crowe does bag the part, we reckon the director should keep up the theme across the rest of the casting: Sam Worthington as Cosette, anyone? If all goes to plan, filming will start in February, so it could be ready in time for the 2012 awards season.