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Les Miserables - Samantha Barks interview

Les Miserables

Interview by Rob Carnevale

SAMANTHA Barks talks about making the leap from stage to screen with Les Miserables and how, in many ways, performing the role of Eponine on film provided more of a challenge.

She also talks about singing with a rain machine constantly following her and why she views co-star Hugh Jackman as such an inspiration.

Q. This is a role that you know inside out and have poured your heart into already. Was it a different experience for you bringing it onto the big screen?
Samantha Barks: Yeah, it was a really different experience because it was a world that was completely new to me. I’ve never done a film before so there was a lot to learn. But I was at least approaching it with a character that I knew a lot about and a piece I knew a lot about. But there’s so many differences in just playing even the same character on stage as there is in film. On stage, you’re projecting your voice and projecting your emotions, so it’s heightened. But there’s something so thrilling about this with being able to still keep tat live buzz that you get when you connect with an audience in live theatre but to combine that with the intimacy and the realism of film. It felt so unique to have that opportunity to experience both at the same time.

Q. Did you enjoy the experience of making your first feature film? And do you have plans to continue making films?
Samantha Barks: I absolutely loved it and it’s definitely an incredible film to have as my first one. I’m aware of how lucky I am to be starting on a film like Les Mis. It’s a hard one because I would definitely love to do more films, definitely, but obviously stage is a huge passion of mine so if there was a way of having a varied career that allowed both that would be fantastic. Actually, somebody like Hugh Jackman is inspiring to me in that way. I’ve always looked at his career in awe because he started on the stage and he’s built an incredible screen career but he goes back and forth. He’s just such a well balanced person in general. But I look at somebody like him because I think that would be the ideal.

Q. After your performance of On My Own, the expression of ‘singing in the rain’ takes on dramatic new meaning. What was the experience of singing your heart out while being pelted by a rain machine?
Samantha Barks: It was a funny thing, especially once we knew we were going to be singing live. I mean, I’ve got a background in theatre so singing live was something I thought I was going to be more comfortable with but there were lots of challenges that you wouldn’t come across in theatre that were new – one being the big rain machine that sort of followed me around for a lot of the film [laughs]. The actual singing in the rain was one thing but every scene that followed that I had to be wet for.

So, sometimes I’d just arrive on set and they’d say: “We’re going to have to hose you down!” And I’d be like: “Really?!” Another thing is that after the rain sequence, you get so cold that your teeth start to chatter and the sound people would ask: “We’re picking up on a weird sound, what is that?” And I’d be like: “It’s my teeth!” So, there’s this part of you that as a singer wants it to be flawless, and you’re thinking ‘does this sound right’? But there’s also a part of you that has to leave your vanity at the door and embrace those kind of flaws in your voice. If I started crying, for instance, you’d carry that into your voice, so there’s no reason as to why you can’t carry that into your singing and I think it makes for a very much more emotional sound if you can engage in an emotional vulnerability.

Read our interview with Anne Hathaway