Anthony Breznican
November 21, 2012 AT 06:37 PM EST

Les Miserables fans can be forgiven for not wanting to wait “One Day More.”

The big-screen musical is coming to theaters 25 years after the debut of the Tony-winning Broadway show, 150 years after Victor Hugo penned his epic novel, and 180 years after the Paris uprising that inspired the story.

It’s one of the most eagerly – and impatiently – awaited films of award season, and won’t begin screening for critics, guilds, and Academy voters until after Thanksgiving. Moviegoers will have to hold on even longer, until Dec. 25, for their chance.

But Entertainment Weekly’s Prize Fighter saw an exclusive rough-cut preview of the movie, and as a special pre-holiday treat we present the first major interviews with stars Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway.

Consider this an appetizer before the main course.

First, a little background: Jackman stars as Jean Valjean, a poor man once imprisoned for stealing bread who receives an unexpected gift that allows him to become a respected member of society – but only after turning fugitive and changing his identity.

Anne Hathaway is Fantine, a woman who works in the newly respectable Valjean’s factory until nattering co-workers force her out after discovering she has an out-of-wedlock child. From there, she has few options beyond selling her body to raise money for the little girl’s care.

Valjean fails to intercede on her behalf because he remains under the suspicion of a police officer, the merciless former prison guard Javert (Russell Crowe,) and fears rocking the boat might draw attention to his true identity.

Even before it screens, Les Miserables, directed by The King’s Speech Oscar-winner Tom Hooper, is already considered one of Oscar season’s power players, with lush costumes, make-up, production design, and cinematography, and complex editing to join together its live-sung performances (We’re promised there is no lip-synching in this film.)

Jackman is a contender for lead actor, and Hathaway is a front-runner for supporting actress, though the film has a host of potential nominees: Crowe as the imperious Javert, Amanda Seyfried as Fantine’s grown-daughter Cosette, and My Week With Marilyn’s Eddie Redmayne as the student revolutionary Marius.

Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter deliver comic relief as well as menace as the thieving innkeepers the Thenardiers, and newcomer Samantha Barks makes her film debut as Eponine, their surprisingly warm-hearted daughter.

Jackman on:

How live-singing is like a nude scene

Forgiveness from the original Valjean performer

Rivalry with Russell Crowe

Hathaway on:

Watching her mother originate Fantine as a child

Singing the bitter, angry version of ‘I Dreamed a Dream’

Losing hair, and weight — but not teeth — for the role

NEXT PAGE: Hugh Jackman: Diving into one of his hardest performances

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