Although there are dozens of songs in Les Miserables, only one of them has a shot at winning the Oscar this year – the lullaby-like new composition “Suddenly.”
In this behind-the-scenes video put together by Universal, composer Claude-Michel Schönberg and lyricist Alain Boublil discuss adding a song to their show, nearly three decades after its creation.
“Suddenly” is performed by Hugh Jackman mid-way through the movie, after the fugitive Jean Valjean rescues the little girl Cosette from the abusive in of the Thenardiers (Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen.) “Up until then, at age 50, he had never loved or been loved by anybody,” Jackman tells EW. “That’s why that song was written – which I thought was a great reason to write a song.”
In the video, Schönberg says that moment is too subtle to capture onstage, and Boublil estimates it was a good way to take advantage of the intimacy that a movie can provide.
And of course, just as a musician might add a couple new songs to a “Greatest Hits” album, “Suddenly” rewards longtime Les Mis fans with something new – while also snagging some eligibility for that coveted Best Original Song award.
Universal also released another behind-the-scenes video, this one exploring the hair and make-up effects created by Lisa Westcott:
“Somehow she manages to pull off this extraordinary journey for Hugh where you really feel like he has lived a long and tiring life,” director Tom Hooper says of Westcott.
Westcott points out an unexpected make-up challenge on Les Mis – the teeth of the actors. In most films, it’s a minor issue at most, but in a period musical the actors are holding notes and keeping their mouths wide open. Hooper is known for his close-ups, so anachronistically healthy teeth would be obvious.
The question she said she asked herself constantly was a simple one: “Can you believe it?”