OSCARS Q&A: Hugh Jackman

By | Saturday December 29, 2012 @ 1:52pm PST
Pete Hammond

Hugh Jackman has carved out an image as a major movie star who can easily switch gears from action to drama to comedy and all things in between. But until now the man who made Wolverine a household name has never done a movie musical. That’s a bit surprising since Jackman also happens to be a classically trained musical star outside of movies. He’s starred in stage classics like Oklahoma!, won a Tony on Broadway as Peter Allen in The Boy From Oz, an Emmy for hosting the Tonys, and worldwide recognition for his singing and dancing as host of the Oscars. He recently did a one-man musical show on Hugh JackmanBroadway, and that’s one of the reasons he says he is even in Les Misérables and making his long-overdue debut as star of a musical on the big screen.

AwardsLine: Would you consider this to be one of the toughest screen roles you’ve done?
Jackman: For sure. There is not an element that really wasn’t the toughest. One of the reasons I did the Broadway show was to make sure I was vocally fit to not only sing it, but sing it all day long, wake up the next day, and have another 12 hours of it. I put on 29 pounds from beginning to end. Tom (Hooper) told me, “I want people to worry, I want your friends to think you’re sick.” The physicality, the emotional (aspect) acting-wise, was tough.

AwardsLine: You rarely see musicals of this size anymore.
Jackman: That’s true. It’s a big risk. I’m not surprised it’s taken 27 years to get there. Read More »

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OSCARS: Striving For “Factual Realism” In ‘Les Miserables’ Production Design

By | Saturday December 29, 2012 @ 12:08pm PST

Cari Lynn is an AwardsLine contributor.

It’s not likely that any of the 60 million theatergoers who saw the musical Les Misérables would have thought the stage production limiting, but they weren’t charged with taking the longest-running musical, set in 1800s France, and blowing it out to larger-than-life size. In what was described by Working Title producers as a “deceptively difficult” adaptation, director Tom Hooper assembled a team that included his longtime production designer Eve Stewart and veteran costume designer Paco Delgado to create a factually accurate world, sprinkled with the magic and fantasy of the beloved musical.

But what no one on the team knew going in was that all singing (and the film is 99% singing) would be shot live. This posed interesting challenges for determining locations, given sound considerations and the desire to use very little CGI. “But,” says Stewart, who was nominated for an Oscar for Hooper’s The King’s Speech, as well as 1999’s Topsy-Turvy, “new ideas are usually the best ones,” so the constraints didn’t narrow her scope as she scouted locations for 20 weeks. She eventually settled on a pristine mountain range in the south of France; the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard in England (where the HMS Victory is moored); an 18th-century rope factory in Kent (the timbers of which were so old that the crew was barred from lighting candles, so imitation flickering lights had to be used); the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich; the River Avon in Bath; as well as a set crafted at Pinewood Studios in London. In each location, Stewart’s crew had to eliminate squeaky floorboards and door hinges, and horses had to be fitted with rubberized hooves. The only location Stewart didn’t have to adapt was Boughton House in Northamptonshire, which dates back to the 17th century and is dubbed the “English Versailles,” where the wedding scene was filmed.

Related: OSCARS Q&A: Tom Hooper Read More »

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‘The Hobbit’ Back To #1 With $563M Global; ‘Les Misérables’ #2 With $71.6M Worldwide; ‘Django Unchained’ #3 With $34M Domestic; Billy Crystal & Bette Midler Beat Tom Cruise

UPDATE: Friday PM/Saturday AM Box Office: ‘The Hobbit’ #1, ‘Django’ Neck & Neck With ‘Les Misérables’ For #2

FRIDAY 12 PM, Read More »

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OSCARS Q&A: Sacha Baron Cohen

By | Thursday December 27, 2012 @ 12:50pm PST

While awards voters traditionally underestimate the merits of comedians, Sacha Baron Cohen is the best possible proof that a comedic actor can possess a wider range than his dramatic counterparts. Like his idol Peter Sellers, Cohen arrests stereotypes and authority figures through his iconic personalities (flamboyant Austrian fashionista Bruno Gehard; the blunt Kazakhstan journalist Borat Sagdiyev and the fierce Middle Eastern totalitarian Admiral General Aladeen as featured in last summer’s comedy The Dictator). However, Cohen has a leg-up on Sellers in that his alter-egos brilliantly cross the line, as he throws them into real-life clashes with celebrities and politicians, often exposing their prejudices and shortcomings. Equally balancing Cohen’s outrageous laugh facets is his ability to escape into serious roles, (read his turns as Signor Adolfo Pirelli the Barber in Tim Burton’s adaptation of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street, the Station Inspector in Martin Scorsese’s Hugo). This holiday season Cohen continues to generate buzz in his second musical role following Sweeney Todd as the duplicitous, vivacious innkeeper cum Master of the House, Thenardier, in Tom Hooper’s Les Miserables – a part which Cohen takes to another level with his own sense of humor. In 2007, Cohen received a best screenplay Oscar nomination for co-penning Borat: Cultural Learnings Of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation Of Kazakhstan. This year, he shares an ensemble award SAG nomination for Les Miserables as well as a National Board of Review ensemble win.

AwardsLine: How did the role of Thenardier come to you? Was this a project you always wanted to be a part of?
Sacha Baron Cohen: Actually, I only have a history with Les Mis in that when I came out of university at age 20 or 21, I went through an open audition for the chorus in Les Mis; not even one of the named roles. And there were about 300 people who were lining up outside the Palace Theater in the West End and I passed the first audition which was singing and then they had a group audition for dancing and they taught a little routine. I had no idea how to learn choreographed steps and so I just decided to freestyle and came to the actual audition. There were seven people doing perfectly choreographed steps and then me just doing some very bad breakdancing in the corner and I did not get the role. So, there is a history. Read More »

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‘Les Misérables’ Starts International Run By Beating ‘The Hobbit’ In Japan & Korea

By | Saturday December 22, 2012 @ 5:54pm PST

Universal opened its big holiday musical Les Misérables first overseas this weekend before it hits North America on Christmas Day. The studio said it grossed $1M at 348 dates in Japan as the #1 Hollywood film. That’s well ahead of the competition … Read More »

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Hot Trailer: ‘Les Miserables’

By | Friday December 21, 2012 @ 9:18pm PST

Another trailer for Les Misérables went up today, this one featuring new footage and Samantha Barks singing “On My Own”:

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Oscars: Parties, Q&As, Campaigning More Rampant Than Ever As Voting Continues

Pete Hammond

Joaquin Phoenix and Anthony Hopkins may not approve, but Oscar season campaigning on the party circuit has been at fever pitch.

“We’ve never seen anything like this. We’re exhausted. We are out every night it seems and the invitations keep coming,”  one Oscar-winning Academy member told me recently. He was referring to the glut of invites to parties, lunches, screenings with Q&As and everything else for which Oscar season campaigning has come to be known. He pointedly added that none of it has ever influenced his vote but he is not turning down the elaborate food spreads and the chance to mingle with contenders. “Just don’t tell anyone who invites me to these things, but  it doesn’t really have much impact on the way I fill out my ballot,”  he added with a smile.

That won’t stop Oscar strategists from trying and the campaign activity this season seems like it pushed into high gear much earlier than normal and hasn’t let up, even as the Christmas break quickly approaches and the town starts to shut down. Don’t tell that to the relentless Weinstein Company who will still have some of their contenders out on the stump even over this holiday weekend. Quentin Tarantino who, despite seeing his Los Angeles premiere for Django Unchained cancelled Tuesday night out of sensitivity to the Newtown tragedy, was out doing a Q&A and reception for a packed screening at the Academy last night and will be doing the same thing for BAFTA-LA Friday night. Read More »

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OSCARS: Hugh Jackman On ‘Les Miserables’: Video

By | Thursday December 20, 2012 @ 12:24am PST

The actor and the movie’s director Tom Hooper describe the rigors of performing in the musical in this behind-the-scenes video from Universal:

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‘Les Misérables’ #1 Advance Xmas Ticket

By | Wednesday December 19, 2012 @ 1:40pm PST

Both Fandango and MovieTickets are reporting huge advance online sales for Universal‘s Les Misérables. Fandango says it’s the #1 advance ticket-seller among all Christmas Day releases, surpassing previous record-holder Sherlock Holmes (2009) as well as the #1 advance ticket-seller among … Read More »

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WGA Nixes ‘Django Unchained’, ‘Les Miserables’, Several Others From Ballots

By | Sunday December 16, 2012 @ 8:29pm PST

Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained and Les Miserables (William Nicholson, Alain Boublil, Claude-Michel Schonberg, Herbert Kretzmer) are among a bunch of prominent movies whose screenplays the Writers Guild of America excluded from nominating ballots for its WGA AwardsRead More »

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SAG Awards Film: What’s Surprising About Who’s In And Who’s Out

By | Wednesday December 12, 2012 @ 8:21am PST
Pete Hammond

In terms of the horse race for Oscars, this morning’s SAG Awards nominations are important on a couple of fronts. It’s the first Guild awards nomination announcement of the year, and that’s significant because the way guilds are thinking (with their strong crossover membership with the Academy) is usually the way Oscar voters are thinking. It’s much more significant in that regard than critics awards. These SAG Awards nominations, the only guild announcing before the Academy gets their ballots this year (10 days earlier than normal), also can have a strong effect on influencing acting Oscar nominations even more than usual due to the time crunch and the fact that many Oscar voters still have a lot to see. In the last few years, the correlation between SAG and Oscar has been strong: In the past two years, the two orgs agreed on 17 of 20 acting noms. Three years ago it was 19 of 20. And although the 2000-strong nominating committee that votes on this film list changes by lottery every year, it’s remarkably in step with the tastes of the Academy’s Actors Branch.

Related: SAG Awards Nominations Announced

What this year’s list really reflects is the tightness of the lead actor race. In September when The Master was released, it was almost unthinkable that Joaquin Phoenix’s highly praised performance would not be among the Best Actor nominees — but he’s AWOL here. I think it probably has less to do with the fact that he didn’t campaign (he didn’t appear at a single SAG Q&A and has been vocal about his disdain for the awards-season process) than the fiercely competitive nature of this category. Who are you going to cut out among Bradley Cooper, Daniel Day-Lewis, John Hawkes, Hugh Jackman and Denzel Washington? There is a long list of others left at the altar by SAG this year including Hitchcock’s Anthony Hopkins, Arbitrage’s Richard Gere, Hyde Park On Hudson’s Bill Murray, Django Unchained’s Jamie Foxx, Bernie’s Jack Black and Amour’s Jean-Louis Trintignant among others, but there just doesn’t seem to be room at the inn and the Academy is likely to have the same problem.

Related: SAG Awards TV: ‘Modern Family’ Leads, ‘Homeland’ Lands First Noms Read More »

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‘Lincoln’, ‘Les Miserables’, ‘Silver Linings’ Top List Of Nominees For 18th Annual Critics Choice Movie Awards

Pete Hammond

With a record-breaking 13 nominations including Picture, Director, Actor for Daniel Day-Lewis, Supporting Actress for Sally Field and Supporting Actor for Tommy Lee Jones, Steven Spielberg’s long-gestating pet project Lincoln dominated the 18th Annual Critics Choice Movie Awards announced this morning. They are presented by the Broadcast Film Critics Association, which will air the CCMA’s on January 10 live on the CW. That is the same date Oscar nominations will be announced, so it should be quite a day. These  awards, unlike many of the critics groups awards, are taken very seriously as a strong precursor to the way Oscar voters may cast their ballots. And with those ballots going out earlier than usual — in less than a week — these early award nominations can have a possible impact on the way the Oscar winds are blowing. Certainly the track record is there for the CCMAs.

If that’s the case, then Universal’s Les Miserables will also be a strong contender, snagging 11 nominations including Best Picture, Director (Tom Hooper), Actor for Hugh Jackman and Supporting Actress for Anne Hathaway. Just one notch behind is a surprisingly robust showing for The Weinstein Company’s Silver Linings Playbook with 10 nominations including Picture, Actor (Bradley Cooper), Actress (Jennifer Lawrence), Supporting Actor (Robert De Niro), Director and Adapted Screenplay (David O. Russell). Fox’s ambitious Life Of Pi garnered an impressive nine nominations including Best Picture, Director (Ang Lee) and many crafts categories. After that it was up to three movies — Argo (including Director Ben Affleck), The Master and Skyfall to each grab seven nominations and try to keep the contest close. In terms of personal nominations, no one could touch Lawrence, who is having quite a year grabbing four nominations including Actress, Actress in a Comedy, Actress in an Action Movie (The Hunger Games) and Best Acting Ensemble. Her Silver Linings co-star Cooper led the males with three acting nominations, all for that film.

The 10 nominees for Best Picture were a diverse bunch that included three entries alone from The Weinstein Company: Django Unchained, The Master and Silver Linings Playbook. Argo, Beasts Of The Southern Wild, Les Miserables, Life Of Pi, Lincoln, Moonrise Kingdom and Zero Dark Thirty round out the list. The latter has already won numerous critics groups awards for Best Film and for its director Kathryn Bigelow. It snagged a total of five mentions from the Broadcast Film Critics, including one for Jessica Chastain as Best Actress. Competing with her are Lawrence, Marion Cotillard for Rust And Bone, Naomi Watts for The Impossible and a couple of contenders on opposite ends of the scale: 85-year-old Amour star Emmanuelle Riva  and 9-year-old Quvenzhane Wallis for Beasts Of The Southern Wild. Read More »

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OSCARS Q&A: Anne Hathaway

By | Saturday December 8, 2012 @ 8:00pm PST

Cari Lynn is an AwardsLine contributor.

It’s not often that an actor guns for a character who promptly dies in a film, but Anne Hathaway fought for the heart-wrenching role of Fantine in this winter’s Les Misérables—and rightly so. Hathaway’s impassioned performance well makes up for the truncated role, and it’s her voice, singing “I Dreamed a Dream”—and shot live—that sets the scene for the trailer of this Christmas release. Hathaway is no stranger to the Oscar race, having been nominated for best actress in 2008 for Rachel Getting Married, but it’s this role that might well be her lock.

AWARDSLINE: Did you have to audition? And was it the role of Fantine that you always had your eye on?
ANNE HATHAWAY: I did have to audition. There was some resistance to the idea of me because of my age—I was in between the ideal ages of the main female characters and was told I was too old for Éponine and Cosette, but probably too young for Fantine. I agreed I was too old for Éponine and Cosette, but I got fiery and determined and pushed my way into an audition for Fantine. I had a three-hour audition but then had to wait a month until I heard anything.

Related: OSCARS: The Supporting Actress Race Read More »

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OSCARS Q&A: Eddie Redmayne

By | Saturday December 8, 2012 @ 5:55pm PST

Cari Lynn is an AwardsLine contributor.

From the first time Brit Eddie Redmayne saw the musical Les Misérables when he was 9 years old, he knew he wanted to be a part of it — only his sights were set on the role of the young street kid, Gavroche. Little did Redmayne know he’d grow up to be the leading love interest and French rebel, Marius Pontmercy. Although he’s a relative newcomer to musicals, Redmayne has an impressive lineup of stage, film, and TV credits both in the U.S. and England, including his lead role in last year’s My Week With Marilyn, and a 2010 supporting actor Tony for Red. But it’s his role in the highly-anticipated Les Mis that has critics buzzing about Oscar—not bad for someone who casually says he’s always enjoyed singing.

AwardsLine: You’d worked with director Tom Hooper before?
Eddie Redmayne: I first met Tom on an audition for the HBO miniseries Elizabeth I (which Hooper directed), and he asked, “Eddie, have you ever ridden a horse?” To which I said, “Yes.” Cut to two weeks later, Helen Mirren is playing Elizabeth and there are 47 stunt horsemen behind me and I have spurs attached to my feet, and I’m like, “At what point do I admit having never ridden a horse in my life?” They call action, and I almost kill myself! Tom shouts, “You’re a bloody liar, Redmayne!” And it’s taken about seven years for him to consider employing me again. There are moments in (Les Mis) where I’m on a horse, and that’s basically Tom getting me back! Read More »

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OSCARS: ‘Les Miserables’ Featurettes

By | Saturday December 8, 2012 @ 10:04am PST

Les Misérables director Tom Hooper narrates clips about the movie’s Production Design, Song, and Hair & Makeup. Costume designer Paco Delgato presents the clip on his work. The musical from Universal Pictures stars Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, and Amanda Seyfried. It opens December 25th. Production Design video is below. For the others, please go to the jump.

Production Design

Read More »

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‘Les Misérables’ Sets UK IMAX Release

By | Wednesday November 28, 2012 @ 2:10am PST

Universal has set a day-and-date IMAX release for Tom Hooper’s Les Misérables in the UK. The film will be digitally remastered in the IMAX format and released in digital IMAX theaters on January 11, the same … Read More »

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Deadline Awards Watch With Pete Hammond, Episode 2

Pete Hammond

Listen to the second episode of our audio podcast Deadline Awards Watch With Pete Hammond. Deadline Awards Columnist Hammond and host David Bloom discuss the impacts on the Oscar race of the just-announced nominations for the Independent Spirit Awards; the strong receptions for awards screenings of hot contenders Les Miserables and Zero Dark Thirty; as well as the strong box office bow for the cinematic achievements of Life Of Pi.

Deadline Awards Watch, Episode 2 (MP3 format)
Deadline Awards Watch, Episode 2 (M4A format) Read More »

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Oscars: Universal Unveils ‘Les Miserables’ in NY And LA To Huge Reaction; First Hugh Jackman Interview: “A Once-In-A-Lifetime Opportunity”

Pete Hammond

Awards strategists for other horses in the ever-tightening race for Best Picture may not want to hear this but Universal Pictures today may have unleashedLes Miserables the 800-pound-gorilla in the Oscar race. That is, if initial reaction to today’s launch … Read More »

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Deadline Awards Watch With Pete Hammond, Episode 1

By | Wednesday November 21, 2012 @ 10:16am PST
Pete Hammond

Listen to the first episode of our audio podcast Deadline Awards Watch With Pete Hammond. Deadline Awards Columnist Hammond and host David Bloom discuss how in a shortened Oscar nomination season there will be no Thanksgiving holiday for major contenders such as Les Miserables and Zero Dark Thirty; whether the early debuts of films such as Argo may help them; the challenges Disney faces backing three big films in the Best Animated Feature race; and how the critical success of the hugely popular Skyfall is pushing Sony to back Oscar runs for its creators and performers in an unprecedented way for the 50-year-old franchise.

Deadline Awards Watch, Episode 1 (MP3 format)
Deadline Awards Watch, Episode 1 (M4A format) Read More »

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