Hugh Jackman is gearing up to revive his song-and-dance routine in epic fashion, as thesp is in talks for a lead role in “Les Miserables,” which Tom Hooper is onboard to direct for Universal.
Jackman is most likely to play Jean Valjean, the intrepid protagonist on the run during the French Revolution, as the tenor part matches Jackman’s natural range.
If he closes a deal, Jackman would be the first thesp to officially board the pic, which original Blighty “Les Miz” mastermind Cameron Mackintosh is producing. Composer Claude-Michel Schoenberg’s original score will be utilized.
The stars had to align for this latest pairing of thesp and project: The project has become a top priority for U after wooing Hooper to direct his follow-up to best picture winner “The King’s Speech,” which also nabbed him director honors.
And since Fox’s “The Wolverine” was pushed back after losing director Darren Aronofsky, Jackman has been in the hunt for his next big project (U had approached Jackman about “Snow White in the Huntsman,” but he eventually passed, clearing the way for “Thor” star Chris Hemsworth).
Universal declined to comment on Jackman’s involvement in the project, though he’s a natural fit given his Broadway chops. The Aussie won high marks for hosting the Tonys, brought a showman’s flair to his hosting turn at the Oscars and starred in Broadway musical “The Boy From Oz.”
During this past weekend’s Tonys, he did a musical number with host Neil Patrick Harris, a moment many thought was a highlight of the show.
For this latest version, William Nicholson penned the script based on the Mackintosh-produced play. The Victor Hugo novel tells the story of Valjean, a recently released prisoner struggling to survive during the French revolution. Mackintosh will produce along with Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner through Working Title Films. The 1998 bigscreen version of Victor Hugo’s novel starred Liam Neeson, Geoffrey Rush and Uma Thurman and managed only $14 million at the domestic box office.
Jackman, who’s repped by WME, can be seen next in DreamWorks’ “Real Steel,” which bows this October.