Although many actresses auditioned for the role of Eponine in the film adaptation of Les Misérables — including Hayden Panettiere, Scarlett Johansson, Lea Michele, Lucy Hale, Evan Rachel Wood and Taylor Swift — avid fans of the Broadway show were thrilled when Samantha Barks was cast in the role, which she previously played in the West End and in the 25th anniversary concert.
Barks was performing in Oliver! in Manchester when, to her surprise, producer Cameron Mackintosh came on stage and announced that she had been cast. Barks later described it via Twitter as the “Most incredible moment of my life!!!!”
But the role was no cake walk for Barks, who is a revelation as Eponine in her film debut. Her rendition of “On My Own,” which she sang while crying in non-stop rain, over and over, is a showstopper.
She told me of the challenges of her role, which included a weight loss of 21 pounds in two months so she would look “waiflike,” but also working in a freezing rain.
“Your teeth start uncontrollably shaking. And people would ask, ‘What’s that sound? That’s Sam’s teeth.’ And your ribs start shaking so you’re trying to control your body and that’s hard to do.”
She also wore a tight corset, “that can be quite restricting vocally on your diaphragm, and I chose to work barefoot for the role, so therefore I had splinters on my feet. There were so many physical things to endure but it was, oh gosh, exciting.”
Now that she’s had a taste of film, she said, “I can’t pretend I don’t want to do way more of it. I’d love to still be able to do film and stage much in a way that Hugh Jackman does. I look to him for inspiration on how to do it the right way.”
Read more at Showbiz411 about why Cameron Macintosh chose the unknown Barks over the mega-star Taylor Swift.