The latest adaptation of Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables brings tears, heartbreak and a star-studded cast. The six-part miniseries that bowed in April on Masterpiece on PBS stars Dominic West as fugitive Jean Valjean, with David Oyelowo as his pursuer Inspector Javert and Lily Collins as ill-fated Fantine. Rounding out the cast are Oscar winner Olivia Colman, Adeel Akhtar, Ellie Bamber, Josh O’Connor, Erin Kellyman and Johnny Flynn.
West and Collins took the stage at Deadline’s The Contenders Emmys recently to talk about their characters and how the BBC-PBS Masterpiece co-production differs from other adaptions of the classic French novel, this one focused more directly on the original story.
“I studied it in high school,” Collins said of the novel. “But not to the extent that I should have, had a known that I would one day be playing Fantine. I think I would have taken a lot more notes and read it more thoroughly.”
Collins also discussed what drew her to the role.
“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. “So for me to be able to go through that in a such a relatively short amount of time was a draw for me as an actor.”
West told the Paramount Theater crowd packed with TV Academy and guild voters that Valjean an “incredible hero.”
“He’s the best superhero in literature really,” he said. “He can climb up buildings like Spider-Man, and he can fight anyone better than Iron Man. But no one of those guys ever did 20 years hard labor in a French 19th century prison hold. So he’s an incredible hero in that way.”
Check out the conversation in the video above.
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