While doing press for Les Misérables, Lily revealed to DigitalSpy the advice Anne Hathaway, who played Fantine in the big-screen version of the musical, gave her when they ran into each other at an event. You can read all about it below!
Lily Collins is tackling the challenging role of tragic Fantine in the BBC’s new version of Les Misérables – and has revealed that she received an important piece of advice from Anne Hathaway.
Hathaway won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Fantine in the big-screen version of the musical Les Mis, while Collins is appearing in a TV version based on Victor Hugo’s original novel – so no songs.
Though she was instructed by series director Tom Shankland to “disregard all previous adaptations”, Collins encountered Hathaway by coincidence at “a big fashion event”, where the pair spoke about their parallel experiences.
Speaking at a press launch for the BBC series, she explained: “I was leaving the bathroom and [Hathaway] was walking towards me – I don’t really know her… I thought, ‘I’m playing you!’ but I didn’t want to say that!”
The pair were eventually introduced by a mutual friend. “I didn’t ask for any advice,” Collins said. “But she said to me, ‘Just don’t lose yourself, because it can get really tough – that’s a really overwhelming character and it goes very deep and it’s very emotional’.
“The essence of what she was saying was, ‘Cling on to reality, because you can go down a dark path’.”
Collins had actually filmed the most challenging part of her role, Fantine’s painful downfall, by the time she spoke to Hathaway. “That was day two. I had just come directly off a film and four days later I went to Brussels and it was, ‘Nice to meet you and here’s your death bed’.
“I personally as an actor have never gone that low – it was a really powerful experience for me to let go and to just give it all up to the moment. So it was interesting that her one thing that she said to me was just, ‘Stay you’.
“I didn’t tell her that I had already done that bit! But I could relate to what she was saying. That first bit of filming… it was really interesting for me to just let myself go and to not recognise myself physically. It was a really magical experience that I’m really grateful for.”
Collins’ co-star David Oyelowo, who plays Javert in the new adaptation, quipped: “I rang Russell Crowe and he hung up on me!”
BBC One’s six-part Les Misérables, also starring Dominic West as Jean Valjean, promises to explore the backstories of its characters in more detail. Oyelowo promised a more complex Javert who is not “marginalised as an antagonist”, while Fantine’s past is brought to life in the first episode.
Collins said: “There’s a scene in the movie where Anne Hathaway’s singing and she has a lyric where it explains she fell in love and had a child – we get a whole episode [to explore that].”
The series won’t be totally unlike the musical and its 2012 film incarnation, though – while you won’t hear ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ or ‘The Confrontation’, director Shankland did let slip that the drama does feature “a few songs”.
“The novel has a flavour of all the great popular culture of that time [1800s France] which filters through into some scenes,” he hinted. “We snuck a few lesser-known ditties in there, but no-one will notice them!”
Les Misérables begins on Sunday, December 30 at 9pm on BBC One.