Les Miserables was one of the biggest films of 2012 and was narrowly beaten to the Best Picture Oscar by Ben Affleck’s Argo at last year’s Academy Awards.
Aside from the fact British director Tom Hooper insisted all the actors sing live in what was a first for a musical film, stars including Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman hit the headlines for their dramatic weight loss.
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Now, the costume director for the film, Paco Delgado, has revealed what it was like working with the cast – factoring in their changing body shapes and Anne Hathaway’s vegan wardrobe demands.
The US actress joins celebrities including Claudia Schiffer and Ellen Degeneres in following a strict vegan lifestyle and she certainly brought her demands onto the set with her.
Delgado, who was nominated for an Oscar and a BAFTA for his work on Les Mis, admitted the first thing the US actress told the crew was that she was a vegan.
“When she came onto the movie for the first time, she said – and obviously being a vegan for her is a very important thing – that she didn’t want to wear anything made with animal products.”
For Paco and his design team – who had to dress more than 4,000 actors and extras for the film set in 18th Century France – this meant searching for cruelty-free materials for Anne’s character, Fantine.
“We found people that could make shoes made out of synthetic leather which looked real,” he told us.
For her wardrobe, the costume team used ethical cotton and linen that was ‘already available.’
Aside from the issue of Anne only wearing vegan clothing, Paco also had to deal with cast members losing a considerable amount of weight over the filming period – and adjusting their wardrobes accordingly.
With the case of Anne Hathaway, the wardrobe team started by creating her costumes for her labourer role – then made adjustments after she lost 26lbs for her time as a prostitute.
Paco told us that the 30-year-old actress had a month off filming to lose the weight so it gave them time to prepare for her new, smaller wardrobe.
However, in the case of actor Hugh Jackman, it worked the other way round as he filmed his scenes as a poor convict first and then had to portray the Mayor of Montreuil.
For his character of Jean Valjean, the Aussie actor stopped drinking water in order to give his skin a sunken, emaciated look.
“The costumes had to reflect that they were too big for him,” said the costume designer.
But Hugh’s scenes as Mayor were filmed ‘really quickly’ afterwards so the team had to ‘put some padding in the stomach’ to make him look more plump.
For the award-winning costume designer, one of his favourite parts of working on the film was creating the outfits for Amanda Seyfried’s character Cosette.
“[Her] costumes were a lot of fun because she was a young girl and she had to reflect the nice life she had and the gaiety [of her character],” he said.
“I think women’s costumes are always much more rewarding because you can do more interesting things with them.”
But he admitted that he had a great time working with British actors Helena Bonham-Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen, who played the Thénardiers in the film adaptation.
“It was fun because we were always making jokes and we laughed at the costumes sometimes because they were so over-the-top and gimmicky and comical,” he said.
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