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I am playing Javert in 3 months. I need this board's help! 
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Fresh Face
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Post I am playing Javert in 3 months. I need this board's help!
Firstly, if this is in the wrong place, to the moderators, I'm sorry, delete it, I am a member as of five minutes ago and am sorry I posted it to the wrong board.

Down to business:

A few friends of mine encouraged me to audition for Javert about a month ago. I'd never seen Les Miserables before, and all I really knew was that there was going to be a movie- and Susan Boyle sang a song from it once, and then she got super-famous. I asked the director of the musical about auditioning and she told me that I needed to learn "Stars". Learned the song, and then I just went in- they asked me a few questions, mainly personality questions, actually- and then got me to sing "Stars", thanked me and sent me on my way.

Last week I was informed that I actually got the part- something I did not expect at all. I wasn't even sure if I wanted to be in it when I was encouraged, and only really auditioned for my friends- but now I'm actually in it, and we're playing five shows in three months time- and I'm Javert.

I quickly got a hold of the script- a few things were cut- but mainly everything was kept in- I had to learn all of Javert's bits- done- I'm fine at lyrics and tunes and such. It's just, and guys, this is where I need your assistance- HOW should I play Javert? I understand the character, I get it, I don't actually think he's a bad guy, very misunderstood, just doing his job, and doing it really well, at that. Gets very confused when he starts to think about Valjean and how there is the possibility that Jean may actually be a good person- and this confuses him so much, it shatters his world view and among other things, leads to his death!

I know there have been many Javerts over the years that have been more popular than others- why is this? Should I do "Stars" as a strong, "I'm-gonna-find-you", roaring number, or should I do it as something that softly builds up into something huge and powerful? I don't know- I'm at a loss.

I've been to see Les Miserables the movie, since its release, a grand total of seven times. It's been out since January 11th here. Not bad I think. I've heard Russell Crowe's voice, at this point, more than anybody else I know- just to get those lyrics 100% spot-on. I don't want to do Javert a disservice by playing him in a way that people won't enjoy. If anyone has any advice, you have no idea how much I'd appreciate that.

Thanks a lot!


Tue Feb 05, 2013 3:41 pm
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Fresh Face
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Well, first of all CONGRATS! :D It's great you got the part!

I think you have already understood what Javert is about. He is a very stubborn character, he's got his beliefs and pretty much nothing can make him change his mind.

He knows Valjean is a con, who escaped his parole, "once a thief, forever a thief", he must be caught no matter what.
He never fails to let you know he is not only a policeman, but also God's soldier, pretty much.

He is on a mission from God. And that's what I like.
If you really think about it, he never does anything wrong, only his duty, nothing more. Once what he believes in turn out wrong and Jean Valjean actually proves himself a good man... Javert is mindblown! And his rigid way of life gives him no escape but suicide.

That's how i see him... I would suggest you watch Norm Lewis (the guy from the 25th anniversary). I really liked the way he portrayed Javert, Stars in particular. You'll find it on youtube i think.

Hope this helps!! :D


Tue Feb 05, 2013 5:48 pm
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Post Re: I am playing Javert in 3 months. I need this board's hel
I was going to write out some response about this and that but I'm going to keep it simple and as objective as possible. For that, we need to get down to the absolute basics.

I do believe that Javert was never meant to be an evil villain. Evil, as in, he doesn't chew on puppies and kittens for breakfast, and indulge in newborns and lady parts for din din. He isn't a monster.

However, recent portrayals, which include the current 25th anniversary U.S. tour and film version, attempt to explore a Javert who is a good guy, misunderstood, dedicated, way too hard on himself, sensitive, angsty, there to protect and to serve the law, has issues, wants to die, likes to tango on ledges, has a thing for stars, and does out-of-character things like momentarily betray all he's ever stood for to make the audience feel warm and fuzzy inside when he pins something onto a kiddie corpse. Oh, and he gets really traumatized at all the carnage and it makes him dance ballet upon more ledges. In other words, he's useless, and everyone breathes a sigh of relief when his spine cracks. Then they go home, fire up the ol' CD/DVD player, and listen to/watch Phil Quast do the role like the way it should be done.

Philip Quast is one of the most universally acclaimed actors out there for his definitive portrayal of Javert. He is the standard to many, and perfection to many more. He did not portray Javert as an evil lurker who turns into a bat at night and feeds on rodents and other vermin and Valjeans by day. He portrayed him as an intense, stern, strategically stoic, harsh, passionate man who's lack of faith in his fellow man leads him to be incredibly unjust, to lack any sense of compassion or empathy, and to jump to false conclusions. The latter being a habit of his that is borne out of that very lack of faith in man, a deficiency he believes isn't his, and ultimately carries him through life, leaving all sorts of pain, despair, and destruction in the lives of others behind.

So, no, he isn't an ax murderer and collector of human skulls, but he most DEFINITELY is not a good, wholesome dude and he doesn't join the old ladies in singing hymns to the Holy Trinity every Sunday, either. We are not supposed to wish they'd stick him in that finale. Should anyone think Javert should be hand in hand with the ghost ladies Fantine and Eponine, or Fantine and Bishop, or Fantine and Valjean, or....you get the point. JAVERT WAS A COMPLETELY SELF IMPORTANT, UN-COMPASSIONATE, TUNNEL VISION, RELENTLESS PURSUER OF A MAN TRYING TO BE GOOD. The man in question made something of himself, touched many, many people's lives in a very positive way, and directly contributed to society and the economy. So I guess you can add CLUELESS MORON to Javert's list of attributes.

I have no inclination to defend the guy. He caused a hell of a LOT of trouble and it was all based on his self-importance and refusal to accept he could possibly be wrong and causing havoc in the lives of people who most definitely do not deserve it. How anyone could even consider portraying him as a sad, puppy-eyed, emo, sensitive guy who is "troubled" and does somersaults on ledges, I'll never know, when most everything he does is the very definition of a trouble maker. He is so full of himself, he can't take being wrong. So he sprouts wings and flies into the Milky Way, a Black Hole, whatever.

When I first saw the 10th anniversary concert, Quast's Javert made me cry, because I truly felt what devastation he must have felt at knowing he was such a menace of society, how his lack of compassion killed many a spirit, and ended up serving a dark God as opposed to the one Valjean had been touched by. When he grasped that lock of graying hair out of its neat bundle to let it fall chaotically and out of order, it was one of the greatest symbolic gestures I've ever seen, and it gave me chills. Javert had "cracked," and even if we weren't always able to explain exactly how or why so that it can come across as believably to others as it does to us, we got it, and did not need him turned into a wimp in order to see it.

That's not to say you should copy Quast. No, that would be the mark of an amateur. Actors create, not imitate. Resist the old imitation/impersonation of other actor portrayals. But you've got the foundation and it doesn't include making it seem Javert is after Valjean's booty.

The rest is up to you and for you to create. Good luck.

And congratulations.

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Wed Feb 06, 2013 12:12 am
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Tony Winner
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Post Re: I am playing Javert in 3 months. I need this board's hel
Ditto pretty much everything Quique said.

Also, the last strip here: http://www.harkavagrant.com/index.php?id=288 -- That's pretty much the epitome of Javert in three panels -- the letter of order over any sort of social kindness or good. I think of him as having spent so much of his life dehumanizing others, labeling near to the whole world about him as criminals, villains, and scum, that he has become a stony, inhuman presence himself -- an icy-eyed god judging you from on a mountain even when staring at you from only six inches away. It's not until Valjean releases him from execution that the ice cracks, but it's not some radiant new dawn of doves and greenery that bursts through, as when Valjean was handed the candlesticks; it's a tempest, a furious, indiscriminate whirlwind. That's the rabid wolf beneath the surface, buried deeply and unseen until that moment.

(Any excuse to re-post a Kate Beaton strip, really... :D )


Wed Feb 06, 2013 6:46 am
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Off-Broadway Lead
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Post Re: I am playing Javert in 3 months. I need this board's hel
If you read the brick to prepare yourself I advise you to read his suicide first, especially his letter. His farewell to the world was a couple of notes regarding police duty. If anything tells you all about the character then it's this. His job was his life. His only devotion was to his duty. And what was his job? To protect and to serve. Valjean is not his nemesis but simply the embodiment of all that Javert stands against and has vowed to bring to justice.

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Wed Feb 06, 2013 12:28 pm
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Fresh Face
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Post Re: I am playing Javert in 3 months. I need this board's hel
Thanks guys!

This was EXACTLY what I needed. I got four different opinions and now it's time to weigh up and take all of it on board. I kind of wanted to hear different opinions, actually, especially regarding who played the best Javert. I've watched videos of Philip Quast, Norm Lewis, Tam Mutu and Hadley Fraser at this point. If anyone else wants to throw some more names out, that would be awesome- if not, that's OK too. Add Russell Crowe to the mixture and I now have five different Javerts to have a good long think about.

Even though I want opinions and such, I know, and I hope you all understand this, I want to play Javert my way. I don't want to play Norm Lewis's Javert, I don't want to play Philip Quast's Javert, Hadley Fraser's Javert, Tam Mutu's Javert, Russell Crowe's Javert, and so on... but I do want to take people's favourite aspects of some of these performances and use them to enhance my own personal portrayal!

After all.... I don't want to end up like anyone from Blacklick High School.... I'm sure you've all seen it... but.... just... oh my God... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kjHzYAv4XCw


Wed Feb 06, 2013 3:32 pm
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Fresh Face
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Post Re: I am playing Javert in 3 months. I need this board's hel
You seem to have a really good idea of what the character's about already and you're on the right track in looking all of this stuff up. It would be easy to just sing it after a tad of research, but it's commendable that you're really looking into it greatly and it'll help you.

I second those who say Quast is probably the best to go to for learning about the character. His acting is great because of how subtle it is at certain points and it's great to watch at times too. I'd recommend just listening to as many as you can and you're on the right track. Tam Mutu was an excellent Javert who nailed the role when I saw him, while I imagine Hadley Fraser would be good at it too.

Just make sure to put your own stamp on it of course. It's your chance to do it and once you're in the role, do what you feel comfortable with if it's right. By then you'll have done enough to know if it's right or not, but as I said it seems you've done a lot of good stuff so far and you're on the right track definitely. I'm sure you'll do great in the role.


Wed Feb 06, 2013 8:41 pm
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