Talking by phone to radio station 98.1 CHFI on June 27, in advance of the July 5 start of a concert engagement at Toronto's Princess of Wales Theatre, Jackman (The Boy From Oz) said, "I do have a desire to do a movie musical. Looks like that's coming true because I'm gonna do Les Miserables, the movie version of it, next year. I'm excited. That's something I need to bring my A-game for."
Jackman, who will take the role of moral hero Jean Valjean, said the film of Les Miz, which has its roots in the London, Broadway and international hit produced by Cameron Mackintosh, will start filming next year, after he shoots "Wolverine 2" this fall. The decades-spanning drama is drawn from the novel by Victor Hugo.
Paul Bettany ("Priest," "Wimbledon") has been mentioned in press reports to play Inspector Javert, who doggedly pursues the reformed thief Valjean.
Tom Hooper, the Oscar-nominated director of "The King's Speech," is expected to direct the film. Given the socially turbulent early 19th-century period in which the tale is set (fighting at the barricades, anyone?), the movie version produced by Working Title Films is to be a big-budget experience teeming with a large cast. Universal will distribute. No casting has been officially announced.
The stage musical is by Alain Boublil (book), Claude-Michel Schönberg (book and music) and Herbert Kretzmer (lyrics). William Nicholson has been mentioned as screenwriter. Jackman also said that his career high so far was starring as Peter Allen in Broadway's The Boy From Oz, for which he won the Tony Award as Best Actor in a Musical. Despite the bad reviews for the show, he said it was an extraordinary experience for him. He added that he is most happy when he is on a stage in front of an audience.
Hooper's film credit before the Best Picture-nominated "The King's Speech" was "The Damned United," about an English football coach. He was also director of the acclaimed miniseries "John Adams."
Jackman, who was seen on screen in "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," is also known for his film roles in the "X-Men" trilogy, "Someone Like You," "Swordfish," "Kate and Leopold," "Van Helsing" and the recent "The Fountain" and "Happy Feet" (in voice). His stage credits also include Trevor Nunn's staging of Oklahoma! at Britian's National Theatre and award-winning work in productions of Sunset Boulevard and Beauty and the Beast in his homeland, Australia.
Jackman's 90-minute Toronto concert July 5-17 at the Princess of Wales Theatre will be a mix of songs, stories and video, he told CHFI radio.