'Les Miserables' Musical a Holiday Hit

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Many Americans spent Christmas Day in the theater, flocking to see the latest cinematic version of Victor Hugo's classic novel, Les Miserables.

The musical brought in more than $18 million on its first day.

Set in 19th century France, it's a story of broken dreams, sacrifice, and redemption.

Actor Hugh Jackman plays the lead character, Jean Valjean, who steals bread to feed his starving nephew and is hunted for decades by a ruthless policeman named Javert.

When Valjean starts over as a successful factory worker, he ultimately takes in a little orphan girl named Cozette and it changes his life forever.

"Such a theme of redemption for your character. Could you talk about that?" Gorman asked the lead actor.

"Yes, yes," Jackman agreed. "You're spot on. And I think, it's to me, one of the most uplifting parts of 'Les Miserables' and…from the novel to the musical."

"In that this man Jean Valjean is pretty much cast aside by society and dealt a pretty bad blow in his life," he continued. "And he has received virtue and grace in the form of the bishop and it changes his life. And he spends the rest of his life trying to live up to the example he's been given."

"And he really does, from a place where redemption seems impossible, rise above things. And it's a great uplifting story in that way," Jackman said.

Academy Award-winning director Tom Hooper said the theme of forgiveness and redemption is clear.

"I mean, I think there's a very strong theme in the film that no human being, you know, should be beyond forgiveness," Hooper said. "And the Jean Valjean character, you know, shows us that it's possible to do an extraordinary personal transformation."

"Les Miserables" breaks new ground technologically in the area of musical production.

"The process was one in which we had an earpiece in our ear and then a pianist, an accompanist off set who was playing an electric piano that was playing silently to the room, but played into our ears," explained actor Eddie Redmayne, who played Marius in the film.

"So it means that these little microphones picked up what we were singing live," he continued. "So if we slowed down, the pianist would slow down with us. If we sped up, he sped up. And the piano was replace by a 70-piece orchestra. So what it meant was that we had complete freedom."

Filmed on location in England and France, this production gives the 150-year-old Hugo tale a powerful cinematic quality.

"What was the biggest challenge in the production?" Gorman asked Jackman.

"There's no easy day in 'Les Miserables' as an actor," Jackman responded. "Oh, it's a walk and talk today or the dinner party scene or everyday somehow required a level of depth or emotional truth vocally - something that as an actor I'd never probably had to do before and there's always that question of 'Can I do it?'"

With a stellar cast and a powerful vocal presentation, "Les Miserables" is sure to be a holiday hit. The film is rated PG-13.

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Gorman Woodfin

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