Emotional return for original star of 'Les Mis' after runaway drama

Julia Llewellyn Smith

Published 07/01/2013|05:00

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THE star of the original 'Les Miserables' stage show Frances Ruffelle has spoken about returning to the musical in a cameo role for the new film adaptation currently in cinemas.

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The film is already considered a certainty in the Oscar shortlist, due to be announced this week.

A screen adaptation of the musical 'Les Miserables', released last Friday, stars Anne Hathaway in Victor Hugo's tale of tragedy and redemption in early 19th Century France.

While the plot and music will be familiar to many from the stage version, what will be surprising is the presence of the star of the original production – in a minor role known only as Whore One.

Frances Ruffelle (47), was 19 when she was propelled to international fame by her role as Eponine in the first English language version of the show, which opened in London in 1984 before transferring to Broadway, where she won a Tony award.

But she ran away from New York overnight and returned to the UK, leaving Sir Trevor Nunn and Sir Cameron Mackintosh, who were behind the show, in the lurch after she became pregnant after an affair with the co-director.

Despite a variety of roles since, she has never recaptured that level of stardom and her appearance in the new film lasts for less than 10 minutes. But she said that she has no regrets.

"The film's London premiere (last month) was very emotional," she said. "I cried a lot throughout, not just because of the story, but because of the memories it brought back."

After becoming pregnant at the age of 21, she had planned to continue as Eponine for four months but had hyperemesis gravidarum, a pregnancy illness, which is the ailment that affected the Duchess of Cambridge.

"I couldn't do anything, I was so nauseous. I didn't tell anyone I was pregnant. All I wanted was to be with my family, so overnight I just boarded a plane and went home,'' she said. "I thought it would just be for a few days, but I was too ill to return.

"Nobody said anything horrible, although I think they (Mackintosh and Nunn) were really angry with me."

The actress added: ''I have no regrets – Eliza's been my best production."

Her daughter is the 24-year-old pop star Eliza Doolittle. Ruffelle, who was born in the East End of London, is the daughter of Sylvia Young, who founded the famous London stage school – from which she was expelled by her mother at the age of 15.

More than 60 million people in 42 countries have seen the famous show in 21 languages, garnering £1bn (€1.3bn) in ticket sales.

Now that her youngest son is 17, Ruffelle is focusing on her work again, adding: "I no longer feel torn between being a good mother and a good actress." (©Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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