To spend time with his family, Paul Bettany turned down the Oscar winning role of King George in Tom Hooper’s The King’s Speech. Cue discussions about film alternate universes, Bettany looks more like Bertie than Colin Firth, slight sadness all around. Deadline reports that Bettany has read for the role of Inspector Javert in Hooper’s film adaptation of the musical Les Miserables.
The adaptation is produced by Cameron Mackintosh and Working Title’s Time Bevan and Eric Fellner with Bill Nicholson’s script. Filming begins at the end of the year in Europe. For those who may not have read the 1000-page Victor Hugo novel, Inspector Javert is the villain to protagonist Jean Valjean, the latter imprisoned for life for stealing a loaf of bread. These men eventually find themselves as enemies during 19th Century Paris.
I do have a few worries about this potential casting rumor. He has apparently sang for Mackintosh but he doesn’t look like a bass-baritone to me. I also wonder if he would be an effectively physical presence against Valjean. But then again, Geoffrey Rush didn’t have to be more intimidating than Liam Neeson in a non-musical film adaptation by Billie August in the late 90′s. My anxieties are here mostly because these are the shoes that Bettany have to fill. Lastly, as long as Lea Salonga plays Fantine and Tom Hooper makes another The Damned United after this movie, I’ll be fine. Both of which will never happen.