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Interview: Amanda Seyfried of 'Les Miserables'

'I'm so obsessed with "Les Mis" ... But I never would have expected this.'

By James Rocchi Jan 9, 2013 10:19AM

After her star-making turn in "Mamma Mia!", the film of the popular musical, having Amanda Seyfried in "Les Miserables" seems less like a brilliant decision and more like simply recognizing the obvious. With her glamor and charm -- plus a great voice -- Seyfried seems like a throwback to the days when ever starlet was expected to carry a tune as well as she could carry her part.


MSN Movies: When you found out that the film was going to be produced in this fashion -- with the huge cinematic filming experience but singing all the songs live -- what was your initial reaction to that? It seems very different from how you shoot a movie musically normally.


Amanda Seyfried: I understood immediately why.




I just didn't really get how, because I'm used to doing 12, 24 hours of ADR depending on what movie I'm doing an ADR for -- Additional Dialogue Recording -- And I was just like man, singing, I mean with all this going on in this kind of atmosphere and at this scale, how are we going to capture our voices in such a way? It's a very intimate story. I mean it's important to really capture everything, and it just seemed like, technically, it wasn't going to happen.


But it did. I'm also curious though when you're singing you have to be present. You want to have good breath support and all that. When you're running around doing all the physicality of the acting, does that get that much tougher?


BING: Amanda Seyfried l 'Les Miserables' 

It does get tougher, but there's this weird freedom with it. It takes your emotions to another level that you can't necessarily get when you're just speaking. It's like singing does something to your body physically as well as emotionally. You're able to convey something so much deeper, I think, by singing, which makes it kind of really exciting when you don't know what your body's going to necessarily do as you're running. Like I don’t know how I'm going to be able to breathe through it. But it just kind of comes out, but it's natural. It's authentic as it's going to be in that way.  It's worth all that. I mean I listen to myself in this movie and I'm like, "Oh my God, why did they use that take? I could barely even mutter that note."


So it's a combination of emotional reality and a kind of technical precision that you would normally you would look for that seems to be less important than the feeling of the scene?


Yes, the technical precision is less important, which is nice because I haven't even mastered that yet.


I read that in school you sang one of young Cosette's songs years ago. When you got cast were you hoping to just borrow a time machine and high-five your 15-year-old self?


I want to do that all the time when I'm working with certain actors or getting certain parts, and this is the biggest achievement thus far in my career. And yeah, I wish so badly I could do that. I wish I could tell her, like, "Listen, it's not that bad. You're going to work. You're going to get there." But I never would have expected this kind of thing because I'm such a fan. I'm so obsessed with this show. And you never expect this kind of thing to come around and to be a part of it so it's nice to be able to talk about it.


Between "Mamma Mia" and this, do you actively look for music in your projects or is it just something where, when it comes up, you're extraordinarily happy?


When it comes up, I'm extraordinarily happy.


Well, as is the audience.


Yeah. I really think this is going to make a difference, hopefully.


For more about "Les Miserables," see our video interview with the cast and crew:


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