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©AP / Helena Bonham Carter
© AP / Helena Bonham Carter
Helena Bonham Carter let down by 'Les Misérables' singing


Helena Bonham Carter has mixed feelings about her performance in "Les Misérables," as she expected her voice to sound "so much better and bigger" in the movie musical.

The eccentric Brit underwent intense vocal lessons to prepare for her role as pickpocketing Madame Thenardier, and sang live in director Tom Hooper's big-screen adaptation of the beloved Broadway show.

Bing: Bonham Carter on the red carpet

But the actress was let down by her turn in "Les Misérables" and is convinced she sounded better in the 2007 musical "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" because technicians boosted her vocals.

"I had lots of vocal training for 'Les Mis,' but I didn't improve as much as I thought I would. I watched it and thought ... I was going to be so much better, I thought my voice was going to be so much bigger," she told the Daily Mail. "I practiced and practiced and practiced, but the thing with 'Les Mis' is that it was real, so that's what we sounded like. In 'Sweeney' I had people making me sound better than I am, but not for this."

Said Bonham Carter: "It's quite daunting because you've got 50 people watching you, filming you and you've just got this thing in your ear with the tune and you're the only one singing. And it just feels weird."

The actress also ruled out ever starring in a live musical, adding, "I would do another singing (film) role if someone else was foolish enough to employ me, but I wouldn't do a stage musical. I don't have a strong enough voice. Maybe for one night, but with singing it's like any muscle, it doesn't last."

Jan 21, 2013 9:26AM
I was a little disappointed in the portrayal of the Thenardier's in the mmovie.  Helena Bonham-Carter's voice was not that bad. Sasha Baron-Cohen was absolutely horrible.  I was just disappointed that the characters were portrayed so evil and hard, not like the play where they were the comic relief to a point.  They were still evil, just not so overtly so and they still got the job done.  Stealing, pulling out gold teeth, etc.....  Helena should not be so hard on herself.
Jan 21, 2013 8:42AM
Kinda too bad they didn't hire a better singer.  I loved the movie, but the music really did suffer for the acting.  Got out my CD from the broadway show and the music is so much more powerful.  Seems like they could have gone for better singers instead of actors that can kind of sing, especially for smaller roles like this one.
Jan 21, 2013 9:40AM
Just wondering why the director would opt for live singing.  With all the wonderful movie techniques and manipulations, he could have made the movie so powerful by not sacrificing the songs.  As a musical theater performer and director, I understand the passion created by a full orchestra and how it enlivens and impassions the actor.  It is diffficult to concentrate on the singing and acting simultaneously if you an not an accomplished singer.  It can be witnessed by the audience as well.  The scene at the inn was too busy with its collage effect that it missed its point of being the comic relief.  Too bad!
Jan 21, 2013 9:36AM
I liked the movie, but the weakest part compared to the musical was the Master of the House scene.  Cohen sucked to be sure, and Carter summed up her performance accurately.
Jan 21, 2013 10:43AM
I must've gotten 'spoiled' by first hearing/seeing 'The 10th Anniversary Concert' ( 1995 )...which aired as an episode of 'Great Performances' on PBS, and featured 'The Dreamcast'.  Philip Quast's intense portrayal of 'Javert'...with his RICH baritone....and those eyes.   Alun Armstrong ( the ORIGINAL ) as 'Thenardier'.....a strong voice, sinister but humorous.  ( I keep thinking...if Jack Nicholson were a younger man, HE might have had a BLAST chewing up the scenery in this film...)  It was the music & the strong vocals that made me fall in love with 'Les Miserables'.   I understand that they needed to 'tone down' the volume of the background score.....I suppose to NOT overpower the more 'natural'...or quieter voices of the actors...( Did I say that right? )......but it kind of left me disappointed.   A LOT of changes to the lyrics, and 'Dog Eats Dog' ( Thenardier sings it down in the sewers ) was completely left out of the film.  I compared the lackluster, kareoke-like version of 'Stars' by Crowe ( Songs from the soundtrack are on YouTube now ) & Cohen's distracting & weird 'Master Of The House' the Quast & Armstrong versions from 'The 10th'.  I also listened to some cuts from the original cast album for the first time.  You get the full dynamic you can comprehend the words coming out of the singer's mouths.   Get yourself a DVD of 'The 10th Anniversary Concert....or the CD....or a CD of the original cast recording.....if you want to enjoy the music.   You can feel it....You can sing along if you want to.....I certainly DON'T want to hear Russell Crowe 'mealy-mouth' his way thru 'Stars'...or 'Javert's Suicide'.......YOU.....reading this.  YOU could step into your shower stall and do a better job of it.    YouTube the Philip Quast....and the Russell Crowe versions & listen to them back to back.   Do the same with Cohen & Armstrong singing 'Master Of The House.......or 'The Bargain'.....Helena didn't bother me.....but the other 2 guys are the difference between winning 'Best Picture'..........and having to settle for just being 'nominated'.........THAT's just MY opinion...... ......
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