Tom Hooper, the Oscar-winning director of “The King’s Speech,” who is set to take on the upcoming film adaptation of the musical “Les Miserables,” has a big decision ahead of him.
According to the New York Post, he’s narrowed down the field of potential candidates for the role of Eponine — the impoverished girl who harbors an abiding love for Marius — to four stars: Lea Michele of “Glee,” Scarlett Johansson, Evan Rachel Wood and Taylor Swift.
As anyone who has seen “Les Miserables” knows, the part of Eponine must be played by someone who can sing well, is capable of generating immediate empathy and can convince us that she really is barely scraping by while living on the streets. It also requires the capacity to totally sell “On My Own,” the song that every teenage musical theater nerd listens to repeatedly while struggling with her unrequited feelings for a boy who really would love her if only he would give her a chance ... at least, that’s what I’ve heard. I don’t know from personal experience or anything.
Assuming the New York Post’s report is semi-accurate, which of these four young ladies is most right for the part? Let’s do a quick breakdown, then open this up to the most legitimate way to cast any major movie role: an unscientific online poll.
Pros: We know she has a hell of a voice. In fact, a source close to the film told the New York Post that Michele knocked her audition “out of the park.” She’s also played Cosette in a Broadway production of the show based on the Victor Hugo novel, so she knows the material well.
Cons: Her participation will bring reminders of “Glee” to the proceedings. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but could be perceived as a negative by those who want “Les Miserables” to boast major movie stars and smack thoroughly of Oscar bait.
Pros: We know she can act. And, as she proved with her 2008 album as well as her karaoke skills in “Lost in Translation,” she can sing, too. Given the star power already attached to the production — Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway — Johansson fits in just fine.
Cons: Even though she’s only two years older than Michele, she may seem a bit too old and sophisticated for the role. Also: Why would Marius reject her? I mean, come on.
Evan Rachel Wood
Pros: She’s probably the edgiest choice; as that aforementioned source noted to the New York Post, she “brings her indie cred.” She’s also a fine actress, and may make the cutest match with Eddie Redmayne, who is set to play Marius and currently stars opposite Michelle Williams in “My Week With Marilyn.”
Cons: Like Johansson, it’s a little hard to imagine her being the sort of girl who begs for a mere kiss on the forehead on her deathbed.
Pros: If Working Title and Universal, the studio behind the film, want to draw a young audience, Swift and her legions of heart-hand-gesturing fans would totally make that happen. And it would be an amazing opportunity for Swift to demonstrate she’s capable of more than writing sappy break-up songs.
Cons: She may not have the vocal power needed for that aforementioned performance of “On My Own.” Also, she doesn’t have the acting experience of her reported co-competitors.
All right, now it’s up to you to make the call. Which of these stars is most deserving of becoming Eponine? Or should someone else be cast in the role? Vote in the poll below.