Tom Hooper for ‘Les Miserables’

Eye on the Oscars: The Director

In adapting the musical version of “Les Miserables” to the bigscreen, Hooper had to do without traditional dialogue. “We were trying to create an alternative universe where people can talk through song, where singing is the means of communication,” he says. “You need to make that convincing.”

More daunting still, Hooper asked his actors to sing live, rather than have the music recorded separately in a studio — a decision that both challenged and empowered the cast. “For Eddie (Redmayne), we used the 21st of 21 takes,” Hooper says. “He said, ‘I’ve been waiting for a year for this,’ and he wanted to do more. I’m glad we did.”

The opportunity to vocally experiment and simultaneously expose their characters’ souls through song, proved to be wildly exhilarating to many.

“It was about giving power back to the actors to act,” Hooper says. “A great actor is about being in the moment. To do it live, you get that power back.”

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