12 Days of ‘Misérables’: Meet Fantine

Anne Hathaway as Fantine in 'Les Misérables' (Photo: Universal)

Celebrate the December 25th release of Universal’s movie musical epic “Les Misérables” with 12 days of interviews and inside peeks at the film’s production with director Tom Hooper, Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried and more of the cast.

With her Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actress in director Tom Hooper’s “Les Misérables,” Anne Hathaway has taken her first step towards fulfilling the awards season prophecy bestowed upon her by many critics.

In the stunning stage musical adaptation, Anne plays Fantine, a single mother and factory worker living in 19th century France. When a coworker discovers Fantine is sending money to her daughter Cosette, who lives with a thieving innkeeper (Sacha Baron Cohen) and his wife (Helena Bonham Carter), the struggling mother is fired and thrown out on the streets. Desperate to raise money for her child, Fantine sells her hair, sells her teeth and turns to prostitution.

Click here to watch ‘Les Mis’ clips and behind-the-scenes videos

In portraying this iconic stage heroine, Hathaway was faced with the seemingly impossible task of understanding Fantine’s tragic life story.

“There’s no way that I could relate to what my character was going through. I have a very successful, happy life and I don’t have any children that I’ve had to give up… or keep,” Hathaway said with a laugh during the film’s New York City press day.

“What I did was I tried to get inside the reality of her story as it exists in our world,” the 30-year-old continued. “I read a lot of articles and watched a lot of documentaries and news clips about sexual slavery. And, for me, for this particular story, I came to the realization that I had been thinking about Fantine as someone who lived in the past, but she doesn’t. She’s living in New York City right now. She’s probably less than a block away. This injustice exists in our world, and so every day that I was her, I just thought — this isn’t an invention. This isn’t me acting. This is me honoring that this pain lives in this world and I hope that in all our lifetimes — like, today — we see it end.”

Anne later said that she felt a responsibility to give the world’s real-life Fantines a voice through her performance, adding that she was most effected by a sobbing woman in one particular documentary.

“She really was the one who made me understand when Fantine says, ‘Shame.’ What it’s like to, not just go to a dark place, but to have fallen from a place where you didn’t imagine anything bad was ever going to happen to you and the betrayal and the rage you feel at life,” Hathaway said. “Because of that, that you’ve gone into a place that, by that way, I don’t believe this woman would have gone to – that Fantine would have gone to if she didn’t have children to support. I think she would have let herself die.”

Click here to watch more ‘Les Mis’ clips and behind-the-scenes videos

“Les Mis” is not Hathaway’s first foray into musical performance. In 2002, the actress appeared in a New York City production of “Carnival!” and, two years later, she recorded tracks for her fantasy film “Ella Enchanted.” Anne also sang a number from “Les Mis” when she co-hosted the 2011 Academy Awards ceremony — a performance that Hooper claims landed her on his shortlist for Fantine.

And while Fantine has considerably less screen time than many of the film’s main characters, Hathaway’s solo performance of “I Dreamed a Dream,” the famously heartbreaking song about unfulfilled aspirations, may single-handedly earn the star a little gold man in February.


The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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