Hugh Jackman talks 'Les Miserables,' extreme weight loss: 9 facts
Hugh Jackman underwent some intense yo-yo dieting to play what he calls a "once in a lifetime role" - Jean Valjean in the anticipated "Les Miserables" musical film.
The movie was directed by Tom Hooper and is based on a musical adapted from a Victor Hugo novel. The show came to Broadway in 1987 and won eight Tonys. It remains one of the most popular musicals in the world.
Check out 9 facts about Hugh Jackman and his "Les Miserables" movie experience."
1. He lost about 20 pounds to play Prisoner No. 24601 and gained 30 to play M'sieur Mayor.
Jackman's character, Valjean, is an impoverished French man who is released from prison on parole after serving time for stealing a loaf of bread for his starving sister and her child and for failed attempts at escaping jail.
He eventually becomes the mayor of a town, an aristocrat and the adoptive father of a young girl, by request of her ill mother, playing by Anne Hathaway.
"Tom did say to me, 'I want your friends to think you're sick in real life. I want you to be unrecognizable,'" Jackman told OTRC.com, adding: "Mind you, from the first day of filming, I got to put on 30 pounds so trust me, I had my fun on this one."
2. Hugh Jackman avoided carbs and used a "bodybuilder trick" to drop the weight fast.
"It felt like 11 years since I've had a carbohydrate," he joked to Katie Couric during an interview on her talk show "Katie" earlier this month. "Well, I've had some since but there was no carbohydrates."
"It was three hours of training a day. I lost about 20 pounds and then I did this crazy thing ... a bodybuilder trick of not drinking any liquid for ... 36 hours," he said. "And what that does -- do not try this, by the way, I do not recommend it -- you lose about 10 pounds of weight really on the extremities. Like all the water just drains out, you get very sunken cheeks, sunken eyes and a massive headache."
Jackman's character appears to be near death in the opening scene of "Les Miserables," which shows him with other prisoners doing manual labor. (Watch a clip)
"You can see how grumpy I looked," the actor told Couric. "There was no acting required. Even Russell was scared of me that way."
He also added that the terrible teeth he sports as impoverished Valjean are fake. He said he had to wear the mouthpiece every day for three weeks so he could get used to singing with it.
3. He and co-star Russell Crowe were friends before "Les Miserables."
Crowe plays a French policeman named Inspector Javert. Valjean is the Moby Dick to his Captain Ahab -- Javert is obsessed with capturing him again and claims that he "broke his parole."
"I got to work with Russell Crowe on this and we've been friends for a long time," Jackman told OTRC.com. "I said to him, 'How do you feel? Are you excited?' and he goes,' You wait a long time in this career for opportunities like this. You're a little nervous, you're excited, but it's exactly the feeling you want as an actor, knowing you're doing something no one's ever done before, and can we pull it off?' It was exciting."
Jackman told EW.com in November that he owes Crowe for two of his biggest film roles, saying: "On 'X-Men,' he was [director] Bryan Singer's first choice for Wolverine, and he mentioned me also for 'Australia.'"
4. Both Jackman and Crowe have musical theatre experience.
Jackman won a Tony for his main role as singer and songwriter Peter Allen in the Broadway musical "The Boy From Oz," which marked his Broadway debut. He also performed the lead role of Curly in "Oklahoma!" in London and portrayed Gaston in "Beauty and the Beast" in his native Australia.
He has often showcased his singing skills on television, including at award ceremonies. He has hosted the Tonys three times and earned an Emmy for hosting the 2004 ceremony. He also hosted the 2009 Oscars.
Crowe played Eddie/Dr. Scott and sometimes, main character Dr. Frank-N-Furter, in a stage production of "The Rocky Horror Show" in Australia (watch video) and his native New Zealand in the 1980s. He also portrayed the main role of Mickey in an Australian production of the British musical "Blood Brothers."
5. Jackman sang a "Les Miserables" song in his audition for "Beauty and the Beast" -- and got insulted.
Jackman told Couric that for his "Beauty and the Beast" audition, he sang the "Stars," a solo actually sung by Javert, when he vows to himself that he will find Valjean.
"I went and I sang it and said, 'Why did you sing that song for 'Beauty and the Beast'? I said, 'It's the only thing I had music for,'" Jackman recalled. "And they said, 'Well put that away, you'll never be in that show.'"
6. Hugh Jackman compares playing Valjean to playing Hamlet.
"I suppose, in a way, the opportunities I've had on stage have been probably more varied, maybe a little deeper than I've had ... on film and I was aware while I was doing this that this was certainly the biggest challenge I've had," he told OTRC.com.
"And let's face it, for anyone, playing Jean Valjean is a bit like playing Hamlet," he said. "So it's one of those once in a lifetime roles, no matter what."
7. Hugh Jackman "stalked" director Tom Hooper.
Jackman told Couric that he never minds auditioning for movies and that he was the one who phoned Hooper to inquire about the "Les Miserables" film.
"I actually rang Tom ... before he had even signed on to this," he said. "I wanted this so bad. I pretty much stalked him."
8. Hugh Jackman's "Les Miserables" audition lasted three hours.
"Usually, if something goes for two or three minutes, you know it's bad and if it goes for three hours, it can also be pretty bad," Jackman told OTRC.com. "Like, 'Wow, if he doesn't know by now ..'"
"I said, 'Tom, it's eight o'clock, I got put my kids to bed. Deb's out, I gotta go,'" the actor recalled, referring to his wife. "And he was like, 'Really?' And I was like, 'Yeah, really.' So I & said, 'I don't think there's anything else I can sing to show you what I can do.' I found out [I got the role] I think two or three weeks later. He made me sweat."
9. Hugh Jackman says it would be "weird" if he was nominated for an Oscar for his role in "Les Miserables."
"It will be weird. It was weird for me to host it. It was weird for me to attend it 10 years ago," he told OTRC.com. "I was on the red carpet taking photographs, thinking, 'I'll never be back here again."
At the 2002 Academy Awards, Jackman co-presented the award for Best Live Action Short Film and Best Animated Short Film with British actress Naomi Watts, who grew up in Australia when she was a teenager.
"You gotta remember, I'm a boy from the northern suburbs of Sydney," Jackman told OTRC.com. "The closest thing I had to the Oscars was my father worked for [accounting firm] Price Waterhouse and I used to go, 'Dad! The accountants are on!'"Additional reporting by George Pennacchio of KABC Television, which produces the entertainment show "On The Red Carpet" (check for local TV listings) and is the parent company of OTRC.com.
"Les Miserables" hits theaters on Christmas Day -- December 25. Watch the trailer below.