It was just announced officially that Russell Crowe will be playing Javert in the movie version of Les Misérables. In a recent post, I discussed Hugh Jackman’s suitability for Valjean and the rumors of Paul Bettany being cast as Javert. I had grown quite used to the idea of Bettany, but now I have to make peace with Russell Crowe in the role.
It’s difficult to discuss Russell Crowe while sticking to my policy of avoiding celebrity gossip. There was a time when I’d hear his name and think of his performances in movies like The Sum of Us and LA Confidential. He was on top of the world with Gladiator. Then reports in the press of temperamental bad behavior became better known than his film projects. I don’t know how much his offscreen reputation has affected his box office draw, but I’m sure there are people in Hollywood who spend their time calculating this stuff.
I can’t help wondering if the producers of the Les Misérables consulted any of these experts when they cast Crowe in their movie. Was Crowe chosen for his acting ability, his singing ability, his box office draw? Of course, it’s got to be a combination of these things, but it’s his singing that is the big question for most Les Mis fans. Crowe has performed in various rock bands over the years, the best known being 30 Odd Foot of Grunts. (Here’s a sample of his singing.) The name of the band hardly inspires confidence in his ability to sing as Javert. I’ve heard that Crowe is getting vocal coaching to prepare himself for the different style of singing needed for a musical. It’s also clear from reports that he is passionate about taking on the role, after auditioning more than once to get the part. Certainly his intensity will suit the character of Javert, a dogged police inspector whose rigid beliefs in an Old Testament-style sense of justice drive him to relentlessly pursue parolee Valjean.
I said it before about Jackman, but I’ll say it again with even more emphasis for Crowe. The producers of Les Mis should release a couple of songs from the musical well before the movie opens, to alleviate the fears of fans and to build buzz for the movie. This is assuming the songs are good enough to put our fears to rest! Speaking of the movie’s opening, a date has already been chosen: December 7, 2012.
Also announced this week: The Phantom of The Opera‘s 25th anniversary is being celebrated next month with a weekend of special performances at the Royal Albert Hall. This is a fully staged musical, unlike the Les Mis anniversary concerts last year. This week, it was announced that one of the performances will be broadcast live to 500 cinemas around North America on October 2nd. Here’s the link to the cinemas. The tickets are about $22, which may vary depending on location.
Since I live on the west coast, the broadcast begins at 11am, which is awfully early for me. There are no cinemas in San Francisco participating, so my nearest location is Daly City. Now, SF is only seven miles by seven miles, and the Daly City cinema is about 8 miles from my home. This translates into a 20 minute drive (except I don’t drive!) or an hour by bus and BART. As I get swept up in the excitement of witnessing this special event, I have to keep reminding myself that I’m not really a Phantom fan. I love Ramin Karimloo, who’s performing as the Phantom, but the musical itself? Not so much. I also have to keep telling myself that if I don’t go, I will hate missing out.
If I end up skipping the live broadcast, I can always rent or buy the DVD. It’s definitely going to be released on DVD, and it’s already available to pre-order on several UK sites. Here’s some information from the official POTO website. The info on the site is rather badly worded, so be warned. It gives a date for the DVD release, November 14th, but it doesn’t specify if this includes North America. I suspect the US release date is later. I will keep updating this information as I find it.