We have to talk about what it was like to sing your big number, “On My Own,” on camera. Did you feel like you had a leg up on the rest of the cast, having performed it so many times before?
Eponine was the role I’d always wanted to play because I’d always wanted to sing that song. So now, even when I get to sing that song, literally the 7-year-old girl in my head is having a party.
I was overwhelmed because I’d never done film before. But what was amazing is that no one has experience in this, and that’s what you have to remember. This is the first time anyone’s ever done this so although you’ve got people like Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe who have so much film experience, and I have so much musical theater experience, none of us had ever experienced the live musical theater in a film, so we were all there to help each other.
What was it like singing in the rain?
It was one of the best days of my life and one of the hardest days of my life. Not only was I singing this song over and over and over again, but I was in the freezing rain too. And it wasn’t like normal rain. There was just one rain machine over my head. It was the heaviest rain I’d ever been in.
But biggest challenge wasn’t the rain dripping down your face. It was the fact that your costume is wet and it’s freezing. Half way through your teeth start chattering. Later on your ribs start uncontrollably shaking, and you’re like “body, calm down! Let’s get through this.” It was a challenging day, but it was so worth it!
When you get to see it, Eponine looks like a freezing cold shivering girl and it’s true, she was. It’s real.
And finally, why do you think she loves Marius?
She’s a criminal who’s come from a really horrible, horrible background with these really wicked parents. So she’s known nothing else other than a life of being kind of a criminal. She’s tragic from day one.
In her life of darkness is this beam of light in the form of one young beautiful student Marius. He’s come from a privileged background, but he wants to do good. And she’s never met someone like that.
And “On My Own” sums it up. She’s basically saying “I have nothing in my life. I’ve actually just turned my back on my family. I’ve got no home, got no family, got no money, got no friends.” But as long as she can have this idea that maybe they can one day be together, it kind of keeps her going. And I think it’s an interesting theme, that love can give you strength. And in the end it redeems her as a good person.