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Hathaway is pale and consumptively thin, her hair chopped short and two of her teeth missing; she sits huddled on the cold, wet ground, weeping as her character, one of Victor Hugo’s great tragic heroines, prepares to sell herself into prostitution.As you may have guessed, the pier on which Hathaway is about to give her body to a Gallic seaman for a few francs is, in fact, a soundstage at Pinewood Studios, outside London, where the feverishly awaited big-screen adaptation of the international pop-opera phenomenon (based on Hugo’s classic doorstopper) is filming.Best known as the home base of 007, Pinewood has been taken over by the likes of Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Eddie Redmayne, Amanda Seyfried, Sacha Baron Cohen, and Helena Bonham Carter (not to mention Hathaway), decked out in costume designer Paco Delgado’s nineteenth-century finery, answering e-mails on i Phones, going over tricky passages from songs, or conferring with their director, Tom Hooper, a 2011 Oscar winner for In the meantime, Hooper and Co.are on production designer Eve Stewart’s sprawling set—squat, sooty brick buildings; rotting hulls of massive ships; and many, many barrels of dead fish, beneath lowering skies out of a Turner seascape—shooting the number “Lovely Ladies,” in which Hathaway, as the tubercular, ill-used factory girl Fantine, reaches her final degradation.“It’s awesome that I was able to go for a hike right before I came here to meet you, quickly wash my hair, and now it’s dry.” The only downside, she says, is having to get her hair cut every three weeks.“But I’m turning 30, and—I hope this isn’t obnoxious to say—I feel prettier, and much more myself.stage production of the musical But she was told that the producers didn’t want to see her, because she was too young for Fantine and too old for the younger parts. She had been asked to prepare Fantine’s big number “I Dreamed a Dream,” as well as “Fantine’s Arrest.” (“They wanted to make sure I could hit that E-flat,” she says, going on to demonstrate for me that, in fact, she can.) Hooper, clearly excited, asked her to work with him on Fantine’s death scene, and by the time they were through, three hours had passed.“It was little short of astonishing—one of the greatest auditions I’ve ever had the privilege to witness,” Hooper recalls.
How do you make these songs work in a close-up and get them to tell a story? It was one of those moments where I relaxed because I thought, Oh, it’s going to work.“Sometimes you leave a room and you feel like maybe you’ve left the door open a crack.This time, I knew that I had slammed it shut behind me.”It would be another month before Hathaway learned that she’d gotten the part, but she hit the ground running, reading the original 1,400-page novel (“It’s one of those books, like a Jane Austen, that you feel you need to go back to again and again”), studying the role of women in nineteenth-century French society, and watching documentaries about sexual slavery.I was just so moved and felt so connected to her and the music and the whole production.I’ve been in love with the show ever since.”With her charming performance in the 2002 Encores!