Google marks the 150th anniversary of the London Underground
I had an interview with Amanda Seyfried in ‘Day & Night’ in the Independent yesterday in which we talked Les Mis and Linda Lovelace.
She may be in London to sell one movie – the adaptation of the stage musical blockbuster Les Miserables – but already, Amanda Seyfried is thinking ahead to her next promotional junket.
That’s because we’ll next see the 27-year-old playing real life porn star Linda Lovelace – the tragic legend of hardcore skin flick Deep Throat – in Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman’s biopic Lovelace.
When we meet in Claridge’s in London, ‘Day & Night’ suggests that Seyfried should savour her cosy questions now about love, corsets and singing during the Les Mis circuit, because can she imagine how inappropriate and borderline-offensive some of the questions on the Lovelace junket might be?
“Totally,” she replies in her hushed voice, giving a small, sly smile. “I told one guy the other night that, to prepare, I gave as many blow jobs as I could. And he was like [pulls a stunned face]. He actually believed me. It was really funny. I can’t wait for that press tour. It’s going to be…interesting.”
We’ll come back to that. Right now, let’s focus on Les Mis – or The Glums as it’s known in the biz.
Directed by Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech), Les Mis finally makes it to the screen, after several false starts over the years. Based on Victor Hugo’s 150-year-old novel, the story takes place against the backdrop of a student uprising in post-Revolutionary France.
Hugh Jackman – a one-time Broadway hoofer – takes the lead role of Jean Valjean, one that was created for the stage by Dubliner Colm Wilkinson (who cameos in the movie), while Russell Crowe plays his crooning policeman nemesis Javert.
Much of the pre-release focus has, deservedly, fallen on Anne Hathaway, who absolutely kills it in the role of tragic brasser Fantine (memo to Sally Field, Helen Hunt and other Supporting Actress Oscar hopefuls: this race is over).
Seyfried has the less showy role as Fantine’s grown-up daughter Cosette, whose love story with rebellious student Marius (Eddie Redmayne) frames much of the second half of the movie.
Having once sung the role of Cosette in a school concert, Seyfried’s casting in the role seemed like kismet.
But despite her early introduction to the material, and having starred in the most successful movie musical of all time (Mamma Mia!), Les Mis still posed a big challenge to the actress in terms of the role’s musical range.
What’s more, Hooper had the cast perform their songs live on set rather than lip-synch to a pre-recorded soundtrack.
“I had a sense of confidence coming into this just because I had done a musical, but it didn’t go anywhere from there as soon as I walked on set,” Seyfried explains. “So much of this is about your voice. If you don’t have the stamina, or haven’t conditioned your voice to be able to sing for that long with that type of emotion, it’s just not going to work.
“But I don’t see how this could have worked any other way. You need the drama. You need the real moments to happen, you need it to be as authentic as possible. If you’re lip-synching to something you recorded months ago, you don’t have very far to go with your emotional state and your acting.”
Seyfried says that Les Mis is one of those cultural phenomena that “just creates magic.” It must have something going for it. It has been running for nearly 28 years, and has been seen by 60m people in 42 countries and 21 languages. So what does Seyfried reckon is its appeal?
“The themes of the story are still same,” she posits. “If we weren’t all struggling, none of this would matter to us or affect us quite like it does. There’s the social aspect of it – the injustice on so many levels – but also the love stories between father and daughter, and mother and child, and between a young man and young women.
“It’s all relevant, always. Love is always relevant. It’s what moves us. It’s about fighting for what you believe in. We’ll never stop doing that. I think true passion lives in us all in some form.”
Is there any cause or issue that would bring her out onto the streets fighting and protesting?
“Wow, I think so,” she replies. “Especially when it comes to animals.” Here she pauses to emit a little giggle. “You’d see me in the front lines fighting for animals, for sure.
“In terms of human rights, I am very aware of all the injustices in the world, especially in the economic sense. I feel less able to fight for things like cures, whereas there are things we can do right now. I would fight to feed people and to bring them water.”
When talking to Seyfried, it seems at times as if she’s in her own little world. It’s actually quite charming, and she has utilised that spacer, wide-eyed innocent quality in a variety of roles, ever since her 2003 breakthrough in Mean Girls, the best teen movie of the Noughties thus far.
Seyfried more than agrees with that assessment of her Tina Fey-scripted movie debut. “It’s the best movie I did,” she exclaims. “It’s a perfect movie. Tina is one of the funniest people to walk the earth, and she’s so intelligent.”
Does she still see her poor train-wreck of a former co-star, Lindsay Lohan? “No, not since we wrapped,” she responds, carefully and curtly.
She picks up again: “That was my first movie and I’m super-proud of it. It was before I knew what this world was like, when I thought every movie was going to be a hit.”
That seems to be an acknowledgment that Seyfried has made her share of critical and/or commercial duds – Red Riding Hood, the under-rated Jennifer’s Body, Chloe, the woeful Gone, for which she should expect a Golden Razzie citation any day now.
But she’s also appeared in at least three great projects – Mean Girls and two television shows, Big Love and Veronica Mars. Perhaps Lovelace will be the movie to firmly establish her status as a proper actress and leading lady?
“I only had three weeks between Lovelace and Les Mis, which was hard,” she explains. “I had a hard time letting Linda go. I was playing someone who existed and you really believe in this person and you want to tell their story.
“The film is from her perspective. It’s one-sided, but it’s the side that’s most fascinating. The true story behind Linda is so overwhelmingly tragic, and it’s something nobody really knows because there’s a stigma attached to her.
“Deep Throat made $600m worldwide – that’s basically the amount Mamma Mia! made today. She got paid $1,250 for the role, and her husband kept it all. She was physically beaten, verbally abused, and she died on welfare. It’s fascinating.”
As if pre-empting any immature, snigger-some questions I might have, Seyfriend adds: “We do re-enact some scenes from Deep Throat. It’s not as graphic as some people are going to hope.”
This potentially transformative stage of her career will arrive just as Seyfried is approaching the big 3-0.
After turning 27 before Christmas, Seyfried says, that “a) I’m finally an adult, and b) I’m taken seriously.”
She continues: “I do act the child at times. I play 18 in Les Mis – and it’s a stretch. I’m youthful, but at the same time I see wrinkles. I recognise that I’m no longer a young girl.”
*Les Miserables is released on January 11th.
*PANEL: Do You Hear The People Cha-Ching?
Ever since Chicago broke Hollywood’s musical drought a decade ago – winning six Oscars and earning $306m worldwide in the process – a slew of Broadway and West End hits have been transferred to the big screen in an attempt to cash in on the trend.
Les Mis looks set to be a big hit – and it needs to be, considering its reported budget of $60m – but in terms of box office returns, the undisputed champ is Mamma Mia! (2008), which has banked $602m globally to date.
Hairspray (2007) was also a massive international hit, drawing in $320m. Joel Schumacher’s The Phantom of The Opera (2004) earned $158m, while Dreamgirls (2006) and Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd (2007) both banked in or around $152m.
On the other end of the scale, Susan Stroman’s The Producers (2005) earned a miserable $38m, which wasn’t even enough to recoup the movie’s budget of $45m.
Rent (2005) was also a dud, pulling in $31m worldwide – again falling well short of the original production investment.
Another colossal turkey that made a loss was Rob Marshall’s Nine (2009) – $54m worldwide for an $80m movie – while the recent Rock Of Ages made just $56m around the world, but cost $75m to produce.
This short film by Dave Tynan has gone viral – it’s about Dublin and Ireland and wanting to stay and wanting to leave at the same time. Well worth a watch.
My recent feature on ‘The Girl’, Tippi Hedren and Hitchcock from ‘Weekend’ magazine in the ‘Irish Independent’
In some respects, this has been a stellar year for the reputation of one of cinema’s most lauded directors, Alfred Hitchcock. His film ‘Vertigo’ was voted the greatest ever made in the decennial Sight & Sound poll, and an upcoming Hollywood film about the man (in which he’s played by Anthony Hopkins) is being talked up as an Oscar contender next year.
However, a new BBC one-off drama paints an altogether more unflattering and disturbing picture of Hitch.
My Upfront column from this week’s Day & Night magazine in the Irish Independent
Usually you could set your watch by my Christmas routine. Every year, I arrive home to the family pile, proceed to eat my way through the entire south-east, meet friends to get ossified on Christmas Eve (ah, ‘tis a sacred time), pig out on Christmas Day, hibernate for St Stephen’s Day in the company of one Indiana Jones, and then, by the 27th, consider re-emerging into the outside world.
Not this year, though. This year I’ll be staying in London for the festive period. It’s my first time not going home for Christmas, which feels like a rites of passage, but that doesn’t make it feel any less strange.
At 31 years of age, some might say I should have reached this milestone before now. Well, first up, typical of my generation, I have a severe case of arrested development. I’m a fully-signed-up ‘kidult’, or, as comic writer Mindy Kaling – who is around my age and even shares my birthday. Call me Mindy! — likes to call us, “teen-plus”.
Second of all, I’m not married nor do I have kids, owing in large part to that gay gene I was born with after my mother stood too close to a microwave or didn’t say enough Hail Marys in a post-Confession penance in that dark winter of 1980, or whatever the latest science says about the causes of homosexuality.
On top of that, I’m single, and have been for a while (choice vs circumstance: a debate for another time), so there hasn’t been the alternative option of spending Christmas with a partner’s family.
Besides, my family signed contracts a while back stipulating that they have to put up with me for at least two non-consecutive visits in the one calendar year.
Legalities aside, it’s always nice to come home, especially at the one time of year that we all have a bit of time off to catch up and just arse around.
However, as I said, that won’t be the case this year. I started a new job a while back, and I’m working on Christmas Day.
It’s not a bad deal – I get time off in and around the 25th in lieu — but that hasn’t stopped my mother from mentally re-casting the organisation as the evil Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.
But the truth is, I was thinking of sticking around London for Christmas, even before I knew of my work rota.
One of my best friends from home lives in London with his wife, and we got talking about our plans back in October. They were staying too, mostly because of work, but he also said something that really stuck with me.
“It’s time we started making our own traditions,” he argued.
He’s right. My group of friends are mostly all in our early 30s now. At some point, we all have to make decisions that may ultimately take us away from our families at times like Christmas. It’s the price of wanting – needing – to live and to make your own life.
I won’t be lonely over Christmas. I have those friends and some others who are sticking around too. It’ll be nice to see what this city is like at Christmas time.
Honestly, even though it still pangs a bit that I’ll only be with the family via Skype this year, it’s exciting having something new and unknown to do. It feels proactive and independent.
There’s probably another term for it, one I try to avoid as much as I can. But I couldn’t dodge it any longer when one friend from home with whom I would normally spend every Christmas Eve out on the razz told me she’s going to her boyfriend’s place up the country this year.
“We have to grow up sometime!” she text when confirming her plans. And I suppose she’s right.
I’m still allowed my Indiana Jones duvet day, though, right?