Here’s Why Anne Hathaway Sounds Weird In Les Mis
By Alex Cranz
If you’re reading this then you’ve seen the trailer for Tom Hooper’s Les Mis adaptation and you’re wondering what the hell is up with Anne Hathaway’s voice.
Maybe, like me, you’re a big fan of Patti LuPone’s version of “Dreamed a Dream” or you’ve seen Susan Boyle’s version. You’re used to a powerful voice blasting this song out and prying every last tear from your eyes with raw emotional yearning and a hint of triumph.
And here is Anne Hathaway. She’s emaciated. Her voice is raw and cracks with the notes. The music swells and she does not.
That’s because, as explained in the feature below, they recorded the songs live on set and on each take. That means hours of singing the same notes and hours of acting those same notes.
This isn’t how it’s normally done. Usually the song is recorded in a studio and then piped in via speakers or ear pieces to the actors who mime what they sang months before. A great and transparent recent example is the Grey’s Anatomy musical. Great because you can see how well it can work (the very first song) and how horribly it can fail (almost everything else). If actors are instinctual on set then this kind of structure will ruin their craft.
But it also allows for singers to really belt it out. Something that would be exhausting to do for six or seven hours every day for three months. Remember Dreamgirls? I guarantee you if they’d used one of Jennifer Hudson’s on set takes of “I’m Telling You” she would not have an Oscar on her mantle.
While the traditionalist in me balks at them taking these songs so literally when often they’re meant to be the internal arias of these character’s souls I’ can’t help but be a little excited too. If it works onscreen we may see one of the largest shifts in musicals in my lifetime. A final breaking away from the roots of melodrama and a true embracing of the realism that’s taken it’s place in film.
So go watch the feature and then weigh in in the comments!