Les Miserables the musical has finally been filmed and will open on Christmas Day. The early premieres for critics and craft members have started with early over the moon reactions. My long wait to finally see this beautiful show on the screen is almost over.
Many months ago when I heard Hugh Jackman had been cast as Jean Val Jean, I cheered. After waiting for more than a quarter of century for one of my favorite musicals to finally come to the screen, it made sense that whatever runs the universe was simply waiting for the perfect person in both acting talent and voice to bring this great show to life on film. Hugh Jackman is special for a very simple reason: He makes me believe in miracles, and I’m happy that I am around to see this one while it is happening.
Nature is very generous. She splashes genetic goodies all over the planet. You wouldn’t want all those lovely attributes to die out, so there are good looks, beautiful bodies, great voices, and facile brains tossed around here, there, and everywhere in abundance. She then promptly proceeds to waste the millions and narrow the supply … a tsunami here, an earthquake there … here a fire, there a famine, poverty, violence, discouragement, family situations filled with thwarted hopes and dreams – all the reasons those talents are never seen or developed … kiss them off so the rest of humanity doesn’t take these amazing gifts for granted.
In October of 1968, Mother Nature went nuts. The grand prize in the genetic sweepstakes of looks, brains, physical grace and natural talents all landed as a single package on one small male infant in Australia just waiting to happen against all the possible events that might get in the way. Now many things could have still gone badly wrong other than dumping all the goodies in one place at the bottom of the earth. They could have landed where they were frustrated, limited or ignored. Nope. This huge birthday present came to rest in a family that was economically secure, emotionally supportive, valued education, and had a strong moral center featuring a strong work ethic, thoughtfulness towards others and responsibility. There are problems between parents, stresses and frustrations as with any family to be sure but after years of schooling, this remarkable young person is now all set up to become: The most successful, best looking TV anchor in Sydney singing Karaoke with his mates on Friday night. OOPS!
All this beautiful young man has to do now is acquire an extended education in his chosen field, meet exactly the right friends, professional people, and woman with exactly the right contacts who all have his best interests at heart. Then he has to convince them that he has the drive, energy, focus and desire to do all of the training of his skills necessary to become everything they hope he will be. He has to be so generous of spirit, warm of humor and decent of character that they will continue to support his efforts for years to expose that talent to the rest of the globe and actually want him to become a superstar even when the professional choices are less than stellar simply because seeing him happy makes them happy.
Fast forward to 20 years later. Now mid 40s with a seemingly successful marriage solidly based in friendship and trust to a lovely lady equally committed to contributing to making the world a better place, two beautiful adopted children to whom he devotes a great deal of time and energy, a checkered motion picture career despite the lucrative Wolverine genre series and overwhelming, award winning but fairly short run successes in Australia, the West End of London and on Broadway, he now stands on the brink showered with wealth and fame. His personal life of family and friends looks to be in good order and he is counted among Hollywood’s “good guys”. Somehow despite being physically and economically blessed in ridiculous measure, he appears to have grown up to be a good, unselfish man with charitable activities that more than match his professional ones while understanding that despite his years of labor to develop formidable attributes, no one gets anywhere all by themselves.
Les Miserables may be the big event in his career. It could well be the one that puts him over that line that separates success from immortality and places a well earned Oscar in his hands. The voice, the drama, the history, the contribution of hundreds of people coming to fruition will amass to see if everything we believe him to be will appear on a screen in front of our eyes as from first scene to last he owns this role. So wait with me as Mother Nature and the Fates all hang in the balance to watch gifts, effort and genius converge. If all goes well, this is a man who deserves to be remembered by the ages if only because you know he will use his success to make life better for others. If it doesn’t happen, we get to see a good movie with good music plus he is an Aussie. Pick yourself up, give it a go again, and tell funny stories about it for the next decade.
Still, I love this musical and wish only the best for this man, so I plan to be at the theater on Christmas Day to watch it happen when once more the audience sobs to Bring Him Home or Empty Chairs or cheers to “Do You Hear The People Sing” and Hugh Jackman makes me believe in miracles.