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Hollywood Flashback: Anne Hathaway Dreamed a Dream Come True With ‘Les Miserables’

The current awards season marks a decade since Anne Hathaway, a contender this year for her role in James Gray’s Armageddon Time, took home a wealth of supporting actress awards — including the BAFTA, Golden Globe, SAG Award and Oscar — for her turn as Fantine in Les Misérables. The actress had already established herself as a movie star in such films as The Princess Diaries, The Devil Wears Prada and Brokeback Mountain, and she scored her first Oscar nomination, for best actress, with 2008’s Rachel Getting Married.

Oscar gold would arrive five years later, with Tom Hooper’s big screen adaptation of the stage musical, in which Hathaway, as a starving sex worker, erodes onscreen, losing her hair and teeth, croaking out the heartbreaking “I Dreamed a Dream” before dying. Her performance was hailed as a standout among an all-star cast led by Hugh Jackman and featuring Russell Crowe, Eddie Redmayne, Amanda Seyfried and Helena Bonham Carter.

“Hathaway dominates, belting out anguish as the doomed Fantine,” wrote Todd McCarthy in his THR review of the Universal film, adding how she “gamely gets down and dirty and has her hair clipped off onscreen.”

Hathaway fought hard for the role, which her own mother had played years earlier in the Broadway production’s first national tour. “My mom and I were talking about the idea that Fantine has lit a match, and she’s just watching it burn down. And she needs to blow it out and let in the darkness,” Hathaway explained at THR‘s Actress Roundtable in December 2012. For the 13 days she was on set, Hathaway essentially starved herself (“existing on scant servings of oatmeal to lose 25 pounds,” as THR described it), in addition to working with a researcher on sexual slavery to immerse herself in the role.

Les Misérables was nominated in eight categories at the 2013 Academy Awards and won three. When Hathaway took the stage to accept her award, she acknowledged the realization of a dream, beginning her speech with, “It came true.”

Excerpt of THR's 2013 review of 'Les Miserables'

THR’s Todd McCarthy praised Anne Hathaway in his review but deemed the film, with its melodramatic and intense performances, “heavily, if soaringly, monotonous.”

This story first appeared in a December stand-alone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

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