Eponine and Marius are not quite star-crossed lovers. They’re the couple that never was. The couple that, had Victor Hugo focus-tested the plot of Les Mis, would have probably won out over the pairing of Marius and Cosette. Scenes would have been rewritten to fulfill that overwhelming reader desire for Eponine to win his heart in the end.
But Hugo and Les Misérables don’t care about giving audiences something nice and pleasant, and frankly, having a crush that doesn’t like you back is the very least of anyone’s problems in 19th century France.
The film adaptation, opening Dec. 25, stays fairly true to the stage show, but Tom Hooper and company also added some narrative elements from Hugo’s novel, giving depth and backstories to characters that might have seemed too slight for the stage. Marius gets a family history, and Eponine is presented with more of a moral conflict, and they become richer characters because of it.
EW already talked to Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman about the roles of Fantine and Jean Valjean, now we hear what supporting actors Samantha Barks (a newcomer to film who played the role in London) and Eddie Redmayne (best known for My Week with Marilyn) had to say about creating that eternal long, lost love between Eponine and Marius.
As a bit of background, in the film, we meet Eponine at two stages in her life. First in 1815 as the spoiled child of the crooked inn owners, the Thénardiers (played by Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen), and then in 1832 as a young woman whose life has gotten worse. Samantha Barks plays this older version of Eponine, as a kind of tragic cool girl. She’s desperately poor and living on the streets, but feisty and strong willed. She finds solace in her love for Marius (Redmayne), the handsome student revolutionary who never returns the feelings.
Marius is a young man who’s become estranged from his wealthy grandfather due to his radical political views. He joins up with a band of students with plans to revolt against the monarchy, but his revolutionary impulses waver when he spots the beautiful Cosette (Amanda Seyfried) in the streets one day and instantly falls in love with her. The crazy thing is, she instantly falls for him too. But of course nothing is that easy.