While, generally speaking, fans of the stage show have been positive about the cast that’s shaping up for “Les Miserables,” Tom Hooper‘s follow-up to his Oscar-winning “The King’s Speech,” which sees him adapt the long running musical version of Victor Hugo‘s classic novel, there’s been one sticking point; namely, the report that country-pop sensation Taylor Swift had been offered the role of Eponine, the spoiled little girl-turned-penniless waif who sings one of the musical’s key numbers, “On My Own.”
Not that Swift can’t carry a tune, obviously, but most were unconvinced by her acting skills to date, and wondered how her contemporary stylings would fit in among the heavyweight cast led by Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Eddie Redmayne and Amanda Seyfried. But the hardcore can breathe a sigh of relief; whether or not that offer was ever given, Swift won’t be in the film, with a virtual screen newcomer stepping in in her place.
Deadline reports that Cameron Mackintosh, the producer of both the stage and film version, appeared on stage tonight after the touring performance of the musical “Oliver!” to announce that British actress Samantha Barks (who’s currently appearing in the show) had landed the role of Eponine in Hooper’s movie. Barks came to fame back in 2008 on the BBC reality TV series “I’ll Do Anything,” a national televised search by Andrew Lloyd-Webber to find an actress to play Nancy in a West End production of “Oliver!,” and while she only placed third in the show, has gone on to a host of musical roles, including playing Eponine both in the West End and in the all-star 25th anniversary concert at the O2 Arena; for a glimpse of the pipes that landed her the part, have a look at Barks in action below.
It certainly has the potential to be a star-making turn, but Eponine’s not the only rising talent that Hooper has found for the film; Broadway veteran Aaron Tveit is playing Enjoiras, while Variety noted yesterday that relative newcomer George Blagden, soon to be seen playing the sure-to-be-crucial role of ‘Villager’ in “Wrath of the Titans,” has landed the role of Grantaire. The major cast are pretty much locked up now, although there’s still no word if deals have closed for Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham-Carter, who were being pursued for the roles of Eponine’s parents, Monsieur and Madame Thenardier. We’ll presumably hear soon, as Hooper has to get moving in order to hit Universal’s Oscar-primed December 7th release date.