HOLLYWOOD (TheSkunk.org) — The cast of the current box office hit Les Misérables made history by singing all their vocals live on the set, instead of lip-synching to a prerecorded track, as is standard procedure for filmed musicals, but it is another movie-making innovation that may help the film walk away with the Best Picture Award.
Director Tom Hooper revealed today that he prerecorded all his direction on videotape three months before principal photography began on the epic Victor Hugo-inspired musical, and then had the actors and crew perform responsively to his instructions while they were being played back to them.
“Before each take, we’d get these video clips sent to us on our iPhones,” said Hugh Jackman, who plays Jean Valjean in the current film adaptation of the 1985 Broadway musical version of Victor Hugo’s 1862 book. “A digital image of Hooper would appear on the screen to give us our stage directions and shout things like ‘Action’ and ‘Cut.”
“He never physically interacted with me the entire time we were filming,” remembered Russell Crowe, who plays the tenacious Inspector Javert. “I’m not even sure he was ever actually on the set – I mean in live, human form.”
“It was quite groundbreaking,” said Anne Hathaway, who plays the garment-worker-turned-prostitute Fantine. “His video image walked us through the whole thing while the cameras were rolling – the movements, the emotions, when to blink, when to whisper, when to cry – I never could have gotten those tears to flow without his prerecorded command to ‘Cry now or find yourself a new fucking career!’”
Crowe praised Hooper’s innovations as “pure genius.”
“Sure, Tom allowed us the freedom to sing live, unrestrained by a prerecorded music track,” he said, “but his biggest gift was giving us the discipline to mimic prerecorded directions that were stoic and unchanging.”
Hathaway believes Hopper is a shoe-in for the Best Director award, remarking that “every scene was achieved in a single take.”
“If we didn’t get it right the first time,” she added, “well, there was no one there to make us do it again.”