While at the Les Misérables event on February 20th, hosts Vanity Fair got in touch with Eddie Redmayne to talk about the film. With talk of on set weight loss and ice baths from some actors, what did Eddie do to prepare for the role of Marius? Check out his honest answer below along with other comments on Les Mis.
Much has been made about the extreme preparation that Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman underwent for Tom Hooper’s Les Misérables adaptation. Hathaway shed 25 pounds off her already thin frame, sent her new husband away to achieve the novel’s eponymous misery, and agreed to have her real hair chopped off for authenticity during a musical sequence. Jackman literally sang while bench pressing, quit coffee, consumed up to seven liters of water a day, insisted on flying with a washcloth over his face to keep his vocal cords moisturized, and subjected himself to regular ice baths. So to what inhuman lengths did Eddie Redmayne go to play Marius in the film?
“I did jack shit!,” the British actor joked to us last night at a party to celebrate Les Mis, co-hosted by Vanity Fair and Chrysler, at Eveleigh restaurant in West Hollywood. “There was a moment [on set] when I was sitting with Tom during rehearsal, and we were waiting for Hugh and a few other people. I asked where they were, and he said they were at the gym. He said, ‘You’re the leading man! Why aren’t you in the gym?’ I said, ‘Because I get to wear a costume! And I don’t have go through the hideousness of being emaciated. Why aren’t you in the gym?”
Not to say that the actor—and one of his immediate family members— wasn’t obsessed with the production. “My older brother, James, and I— we had no sort of formal musical background, but when we were little he would sing Jean Valjean and I would sing Javert,” the Tony winner told us. “When I was auditioning for the part, I cared very much about getting [Marius]. But James cared even more than me! He was sending me constant text messages. ‘Have you heard?’ ‘What’s the latest?’ ‘Any news?’”
James was so dedicated to his brother’s project that he even proposed a human sacrifice to Tom Hooper. “James even offered his newborn baby to be baby Cosette in the movie. Literally! He went up to Tom [Hooper] and said, ‘Have my child.’ Tom was like, ‘Uh, there is no baby Cosette in the film. Thanks.”
In the end, Hooper’s dismissal probably worked out best for Eddie’s niece. To create a realistically miserable 19th-century Parisian environment, Hooper reportedly left the stage doors open all night to make sure it was bitterly cold on set, let fish rot for odorous authenticity, and filled a man-made sewer with sludge for Jackman and Redmayne to wade through during Valjean’s escape scene.
“That was the worst day . . . filming the scene in which I’m in a sewer, being dragged by Hugh,” Redmayne recalls. “We were swimming through shit for a day and a half. But I’m not allowed to complain, because whatever I was going through, Hugh had to carry me through it.”
Asked how they made light of the situation—slogging through sewage that production designer Eve Stewart has revealed was in fact facial mud— Redmayne revealed: “Well, the fact that we were singing while covered in shit was pretty funny. The constant singing was quite humorous himself.”
After speaking to Amanda Seyfried—who told us that the extent of her weight-loss preparations for the film was “abstaining from alcohol and foods that were too creamy and sugary . . . nothing close to what Anne did,” we discussed the extreme circumstances of the shoot with Hooper. “Well, we were in a closed-door environment. I tried to make it seem as real as I could,” the Oscar-winning filmmaker said, before cheekily adding that it was not nearly as chilly or smelly as it would have been had the cast filmed on location in a real fish market or an actual sewer. As eager as Hooper had been to make the shoot feel real, however, even he agreed that Hathaway and Jackman went to ridiculous extremes. Of the two, he said that Jackman went further, “not drinking anything for 36 hours so he could get that sunken-cheek-and-pallor effect. That was a bit much. I was so scared for him that I even tried to force him to take a sip of water.”