This is really weird news! Weeks ago, it was flat-out confirmed by multiple sources that Taylor Swift had been cast as Eponine in Les Miserables, which begins filming in England very, very soon. Swifty was in London for a few weeks, hanging out with Gwyneth Paltrow, wandering the Princess Diana Memorial park and looking teary as she chanced upon some swans. It’s thought that Swifty was in London as she prepared for the film. But now it’s looking like Swifty is OUT, and a stage actress named Samantha Barks is in? Swifty just got Blake Lively’d.
Samantha Barks is set to play Eponine in the film version of Les Miserables – the role she played at the 25th anniversary concert.
Cameron Mackintosh announced it live on stage at the Manchester Palace at the end of this evening’s performance of Oliver!, in which Barks is currently playing Nancy.
He told the cast and audience that he had a big announcement to make before flying to America, and then revealed that Barks would be taking the role of Eponine.
It seems to have come as a surprise to Barks – audience members reported that “the look on her face was priceless”.
She tweeted soon after the curtain call: “Most incredible moment of my life!!!! X”
Fellow cast member Jack Edwards, who plays Mr Bumble, called it “amazing”. Matt Harrop, in the ensemble, added: “so happy for my nancy babes. Amazing and incredible news. So worthy! Mx”, with Kade Ferraiolo saying: “Congratulations to the amazing @SamanthaBarks I’ll never forget what just happened on stage:-)”
Barks’s former castmate Lucie Jones, who played Cosette in the West End, tweeted: “I’ve never been so proud I’m literally BURSTING!!! TEARS and everything!!!”
Lea Salonga, who played Fantine alongside Barks in the 25th anniversary concert and previously played Eponine, said: “It’s official: @SamanthaBarks will be Eponine in the Les Miz movie!!! Yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes!!! Thank you, casting gods!!!”
Frances Ruffelle, who created the role, tweeted to Barks: “So proud of you!! Well done my darling girl xxxxx”
Taylor Swift had originally been linked with the part.
One audience member tweeted: “Best night ever just knowing I was there when Samantha got told. She really was the best Eponine!”
Samantha Barks trained at the Arts Educational school for a year before entering “I’d Do Anything”, the BBC search for the new ‘Nancy’ in Cameron Mackintosh’s “Oliver!” where she finished in the top three. Following “I’d Do Anything” she took part in the workshop for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Love Never Dies”. Samantha made her stage debut as ‘Sally Bowles’ in the national tour of “Cabaret”, before taking the classic role of ‘Aladdin’ in “Aladdin” at the Theatre Royal Windsor. Last year Samantha made her West End debut in the role of ‘Eponine’ in “Les Misérables”, and played the role again in the “Les Misérables 25th Anniversary Concert” at The O2. Television credits include the lead role of ‘Zoe’ in the Disney TV series “Groove High”.
[From Broadway World]
Everyone is using this Broadway World story as their source for the “Swifty got pushed out” stories, so am I wrong in thinking that this might not be a done deal? I think it’s sketchy – Swifty was in London, seeming to prepare for the film, although she came back to California this past weekend. Did she mess up? Did she have the part at one point, but producers rethought their choice? Did she get sent packing, shunned from England? Oh, this is going to be a good song.
I’m not joking when I say that it seems like Swifty just got Blake Lively’d. The same conversation we had about Rooney Mara getting cast over Blake… we need to have that conversation about Swifty now. Maybe Hollywood simply isn’t ready to make Swifty a movie star yet. Maybe they’re worried about her immature, princessy, girly image.
Photos courtesy of Fame/Flynet.