Samantha Barks and Eddie Redmayne say the Les Miserables auditions were like American Idol or X Factor

Les Miserables is probably the best musical since Chicago. It’s technically a bit flawed but it has some staying power and has some fantastic performances from the cast. A lot of that cast had to go through some extensive auditions before they were cast in the film. Samantha Barks and Eddie Redmayne sat down with the Los Angeles Times for a wide-ranging interview on the film, and went over how the auditions went down.

Barks: [Producer] Cameron Mackintosh knew me from a TV show I did when I was 17 and from playing the role on the West End. So my name was in the mix but so were so many other people. I was a huge gamble [for them]. I had never done a film before. I had no screen experience. And as all these A-list stars were being announced [as potential Eponines], I had no name for myself. I had done the role, I had experience with the role but I had to really prove I could translate that onto the screen. It was over 15 weeks. Working the material, turning the theatrical performance into a film-worthy screen performance.

Redmayne: It was a pretty intense audition because the stakes were so high. The tests were full-on, in costume, hair and make-up. They even built us a mini-barricade. The last audition that I did, it felt like something out of an “X-Factor”audition or “American Idol.” You were in this little room with the casting director Nina Gold and Tom with a camera here [he indicates inches from his face] and then a panel with Cameron Mackintosh, the two producers from Working Title and [composer Claude-Michel Schonberg]. I suddenly had so much more respect for the “X-Factor” contestants. And I was sort of a wreck both before and after.

You read that right. It was a 15-week audition process. To put that in perspective, most movies finish principal photography (read: shooting the movie) in that amount of time.

What Barks says is interesting as well, they had to “translate [the performance] onto the screen.” The actors are getting a lot of flack for not being as good as the stage version, but these are actors who are used to acting in a way that fits a film. Even for Barks, she had to adjust for the camera.

As Redmayne says later in the interview, Barks had a tough time. She had to sing her solo while rain is coming down and while she’s crying, which causes your nasal cavities to get all mucus-y. That isn’t the ideal condition for belting out songs. [Los Angeles Times]

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