Pop and country singer Taylor Swift will not play the role of Eponine in the film adaptation of the Broadway musical "Les Miserables," as recent reports have suggested.
The part will instead go to Samantha Barks, a 21-year-old British actress who played the character in a production of "Les Miserables" in London's West End for a year, starting in June 2010. She also portrayed Eponine (pronounced "EH-poe-neen") at the show's 25th anniversary London concert at the O2 Arena in 2011. This is her first major acting role and first film.
Producer Cameron Mackintosh announced the casting news on Tuesday night on stage at the end of the performance of the musical "Oliver!" at the Palace Theatre in the UK city of Manchester. Barks, who has never appeared in a Hollywood production before, was in full costume as main female character Nancy.
"For the last few months in Hollywood, in Broadway and in London, we're been searching for Eponine. Our director, Tom Hooper, has chosen her," Mackintosh said, hugging a seemingly astonished Barks.
Barks told BBC News, which posted a video of the surprise announcement, she was still "really shocked," adding she was "very excited to meet" the rest of the "Les Miserables" film cast, which includes Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway.
She said she did not know when she is set to leave "Oliver!" and begin filming "Les Miserables." Hooper, director of the Oscar-winning film "The King's Speech," helms the new film, which is set for release on Dec. 7, 2012.
Swift, "Glee" and former Broadway star Lea Michele, Scarlett Johansson and Evan Rachel Wood were previously named as contenders for the role of Eponine and In early January, Swift, 22, was reportedly offered the part, according to CNN. It is unclear if the singer, who had a part in the movie "Valentine's Day" and on the series "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," and the rest of the women will appear in the "Les Miserables" movie at all.
'ON MY OWN'
Eponine is the daughter of two impoverished and wacky swindlers, played by Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter. When she is older, Eponine follows her love interest, student Marius, played by Eddie Redmayne of "My Week With Marilyn," to become a resistance fighter in 19th century France.
Eponine's iconic solo ballad, "On My Own," details her unrequited feelings for Marius and was covered by Katie Holmes on the drama series "Dawson's Creek." Veteran Broadway actress Lea Salonga, who provided the singing voices of Disney princesses Jasmine and Mulan and originated the role of Kim in the show "Miss Saigon," played Eponine in the New York musical in 1992.
Barks voiced the main character in the animated series "Grove High" in 2011. In 2008, she came in third place in the BBC talent competition series "I'd Do Anything," which searched for an actress to play Nancy and three actors to portray the title character in a West End revival of "Oliver!." The show closed in London in early 2011 and later embarked on a tour.
"Les Miserables" is based on a 1862 French novel by Victor Hugo. The show centers mostly around the life of Jean Valjean, a man who stole bread to feed his family and escapes jail. He spends his life trying to find redemption.
Jackman, who won a Tony for his role in the musical "The Boy from Oz," plays Valjean, a role originated by Irish actor Colm Wilkinson on Broadway and in London. He will also appear in the film as the Bishop of Digne, who saves Valjean following his escape from jail, Broadway.com says.
Crowe portrays Inspector Javert, a stern lawman who spends years hunting down Valjean. The former inmate has built a new life as a town mayor. He fulfills a promise to an impoverished woman named Fantine, played by Hathaway, by adopting her daughter Cosette. Her mother had sent her to live with Eponine's parents, who treat her like a slave.
Amanda Seyfried, who is currently filming the porn star biopic "Lovelace" in Los Angeles and showcased her musical skills in the 2008 movie adaptation of "Mamma Mia!," is set to play Cosette, CNN reported.
Valjean also joins a group of student revolutionaries. One of them falls in love with Cosette, creating a love triangle involving Eponine. Frances Ruffelle, who originated the latter role on Broadway and in London, will appear in the film during the "Lovely Ladies" song number, during which prostitutes sing about their profession in front of Fantine, coaxing her to join them.