Eddie Redmayne On 'Unlearning' 'Les Miserables' & Prince William's Singing

Eddie Redmayne Les Mis Prince William

Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, and even rock hobbyist Russell Crowe are known double threats when it comes to acting and singing, but Tom Hooper’s big screen Les Miserables offers its biggest surprise by introducing the musical talents of Brit actor Eddie Redmayne. Trained as a chorister at Eton College (where he went to school with, yes, Prince William — more on that in a moment), the longtime Les Mis fan knew the musical so well he filmed his audition via iPhone while shooting another film. When he got to preparing for the film, however, his Les Mis fanaticism didn’t quite help.

“What was tricky was that growing up listening to Michael Ball who played the part originally, and you’ve heard his versions of the songs which are the versions, the iconic ones that are brilliant, coming to the movie I had to sort of unlearn everything that I loved about it,” Redmayne told Movieline.

Stage veteran Ball originated the Marius role in London (watch him perform below), but a standout moment in the new film comes when Redmayne performs his version of "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables," filmed in long takes. Hooper’s cast underwent intense training to build up the strength required to sing entire songs at a time, live, as the cameras rolled.

“We did months of vocal training to literally change the muscles in the back of your throat, and the tongue muscles, to allow for the stamina to shoot 25 takes at a time,” Redmayne explained. “By the time it came to filming, I wanted to not be thinking about that at all and just be playing the thought, basically."

Having grown up a Les Mis fan, Redmayne leaped at the chance to pursue the role. He recorded himself singing "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables" while filming Hick with Chloe Moretz: "I still have the audition tape of me dressed as a cowboy, wailing away."

As for the actor's famous royal classmate, Prince William? "I don’t think singing was his thing," Redmayne laughed.

Stay tuned for our full interview with Redmayne for Les Miserables, in theaters December 25.


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