For our 2013 Great Performances portfolio, TIME spoke with Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman about their performances in Les Misérables.
Performance: Jean Valjean in Les Misérables (Oscar nomination, Best Actor)
“One of Victor Hugo’s main themes is how harsh and wasteful the jail system was,” says Jackman, whose Jean Valjean served 19 years for stealing a loaf of bread. “The goal wasn’t to turn you out rehabilitated. The goal was to turn you out as an animal.”
Performance: Fantine in Les Misérables (Oscar nomination, Best Supporting Actress)
“As a woman born in 1982, I take for granted so many freedoms that Fantine wouldn’t even dream of,” says Hathaway, who did voluminous research on everything from 19th century French law to modern-day sex slavery to play a doomed prostitute.
The Performers Speak: