Russell Crowe inquired, too — “I’ve been stretching my voice,” the producer quotes him as remarking — and so Mackintosh set him up with tickets to refresh his memory of the stage musical and help him settle on which of the leads Crowe felt he might better be suited. “Javert’s my role,” Mackintosh says Crowe told him, referring to the single-minded gendarme who pursues the saintly, unfairly persecuted Valjean across the years.
No one earned a part without singing to the satisfaction of director Tom Hooper and the other principal architects of the film. Amanda Seyfried, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen, Eddie Redmayne, all featured prominently in the movie, which was filmed in various locations in Britain last spring, had to prove their voices could pass muster. “They all auditioned,” says Mackintosh, “and of course it was for their own good.”
Indeed it was. Not only is the lush “Les Miserables” score by Claude-Michel Schonberg and Herbert Kretzmer notoriously challenging: Go ahead, you try singing the falsetto of “Bring Him Home.” But the actors would also be required to sing their numbers with the cameras rolling on the set, not in the cozier confines of the recording studio. “Tom was as passionate as I was about recording it live,” Mackintosh says.
And so, with show-tune geeks counting down the hours and social media awash in commentary from early screenings — “Just saw ‘Les Miz.’ When can I see ‘Les Miz’ again?” Time Out New York’s Adam Feldman posted on Facebook — Mackintosh waits for the worldwide verdicts on whether the translation of “Les Miz” to the big screen will resonate “Chicago”-style, or fizzle, a la “Rent.”
“Look, I’m a dinosaur now,” Mackintosh says, sitting in the suite of offices from which he oversees his Broadway interests. At 66, but looking a decade younger, Mackintosh is one of the last of the old-school titans, a stage producer in the truest sense of the title: an executive who makes big shows happen, rather than just emptying bank accounts into them. (Today, Broadway Playbills list dozens of “producers” for each multi-million-dollar show, but the vast majority of them are, in actuality, merely investors who are indulged by the lead producers.)