The new television adaptation of Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables will premiere in the U.S. this month on Masterpiece on PBS. The six-part miniseries stars Dominic West as fugitive Jean Valjean, with David Oyelowo as his pursuer Inspector Javert and Lily Collins as luckless single mother Fantine. Rounding out the cast are Oscar winner Olivia Colman, Adeel Akhtar, Ellie Bamber, Josh O’Connor and Erin Kellyman.
West and Collins took the stage Sunday at Deadline’s The Contenders Emmys to talk about their characters and how this version differs from previous adaptations of the classic French novel.
“You’ll love this one” West told Deadline’s Peter White about the BBC Studios production.
Collins described playing Fantine as “real and grounding.”
“It was a real transformational character for me to go from long hair, obviously the physical aspect of long hair, a young naive woman, to no hair, no two front teeth, sickly,” she said. “To be able to go through that in a such a relatively short amount of time was a draw.”
West called his character Valjean an “incredible hero.”
“He’s the best superhero in literature really. He can climb up buildings like Spider-Man and he can fight anyone better than Iron Man,” West said. “But none of those guys ever did 20 years hard labor in a French 19th century prison.”
Executive producers on the series are Andrew Davies, Faith Penhale (War and Peace) for Lookout Point and Bethan Jones for BBC Studios (Sherlock). Oyelowo and West also executive produce. Mona Qureshi is executive producer for BBC One and Rebecca Eaton for Masterpiece. The series is also produced by Chris Carey (Apple Tree Yard) and directed by Tom Shankland (The Missing).
Les Misérables will premiere stateside April 14 at 9 PM ET on PBS.