independent

Saturday 19 April 2014

I beat Taylor to star in 'Les Mis'!

Les Misérables? Rising star Samantha Barks is anything but as she graces the big screen for the first time in the iconic musical tomorrow.

West End star Samantha has been tipped as 'one to watch' in 2013 after making her Hollywood debut alongside Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman in Les Mis.

And the 22 year old already has her own fan club, ring-led by her Dubliner mum.

"You've got to love the Irish mammy," jokes Manx actress Samantha, who plays Éponine in the Oscar frontrunner. "Every time I come home, she always has a cup of tea ready!

"My mum is from Malahide so we still have lots of family there. They've all been really supportive. I've been getting loads of texts to say how excited they are about seeing the movie."

Disney alumnus Sam reportedly beat off stiff competition from stars such as Taylor Swift to land one of Tinseltown's most coveted roles.

"As a little girl, I remember singing 'On My Own' into my hairbrush and wanting to be Éponine," she recalls.

"When you go for a role, there's always so many other actresses up against you. You just have to not think about that.

"The most important thing is to just really focus on your [own performance], because this is the biggest opportunity I've ever had."

Opportunity first knocked for Banks when she came third on BBC talent search I'd Do Anything, hosted by Graham Norton, in 2008.

"Even meeting Andrew Lloyd Webber was a dream come true, let alone singing in front of him," says Samantha, who's currently starring in Oliver! at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre in Dublin.

"It was such a long shot – I never thought for one second I'd get past the first round, so to actually end up coming third was amazing.

"I think I just went in with a very positive attitude. At 17, I didn't have a career, so I didn't have anything to lose.

"Each reality show is a very different thing," she adds. "For me, it was a fantastic experience. That got me an agent and got me into all the right auditions."

And it's not the first time that Barks has embodied Éponine in the musical smash based on Victor Hugo's 1862 novel.

She got her big break playing the riches-to-rags teen in the 25th anniversary concert of Les Mis two years ago.

"Playing Éponine on the West End probably got me the audition for the movie," Samantha reckons. "But it was still a big long 15-week process before I actually got the part.

"Going from stage to screen was a huge transition for me.

"Anne [Hathaway] and Hugh [Jackman] are just the nicest people, so it wasn't as scary as it could have been."

But the best part of her newfound fame?

"The frocks," laughs Samantha, who looked stunning in Stella McCartney at the world premiere of the flick in London recently.

"It's the first time I've done the red carpet for a film so it's very exciting. I'm such a girl – when I get to try on dresses, it's like, 'Ooh!'

"As an actress, you start playing dress-up at five and it never really stops. That's the best part of this job.

"Right now, I'm just taking every day as it comes."

Les Misérables is in cinemas tomorrow

Irish Independent

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