Les Misérables: On Set With Jean Valjean

Victor Hugo’s “Les Misérables” hits the stage at the Playhouse in San Anselmo November 9-18. Featuring a terrific score of songs and phenomenal performance by some of the most talented youth actors in the Bay Area! I sat down Jean Valjean (a.k.a. Morgan Hunt), starring in the 23 Elephants production of “Les Misérables” on November 9-18.

What is it like to be the most famous character in the world's most popular musical?

I am honored. To think that a few years ago I was in the Toulon chain gang, nearly starving to death. Now I am perhaps one of the most famous literary characters of all time, and I had an amazing musical written about my painful yet rewarding journey out of poverty and hardship. The music is some of the best ever written as well.

You went to jail for 20 years for stealing a loaf of bread. How did you cope with that on a daily basis? And what are your feelings about bread?

The chain gang was hell on earth, if I'm honest. Most every day we would move rocks from one side of the prison yard to the other. The worst thing was that we never actually got anything accomplished. I remember there were one or two days out of the year when we were actually towing ships into the harbor. It wasn't fun, but at least I felt like I was accomplishing something.

The police inspector, Javert, has been chasing you for many years. How do you manage to keep evading him? And what's his problem, anyway?

Javert is my life time enemy, but I don't blame him for not letting me free. He is only doing his duty, nothing more. I am able to evade him partly because of my strength, but also partly because God wants me to. God desires that I survive so that I may live a life of compassion and kindness. This is especially necessary in this politically turbulent environment of France.

Something a lot of folks don't know about you is that you are incredibly strong, actually lifted a full-sized cart off of a man once, saving his life. Can you share your fitness secrets with us?

Yes, I do pride myself on being incredibly strong. It is perhaps the only reason I was able to survive my 19 years in the Toulon chain gang. I practice simply by lifting heavy things. Over time this results in large muscles, a six pack, and the ability to lift a huge cart off of man like I did.

What do you think of Marius Pontmercy marrying your daughter, Cosette?

When I initially find out that Marius and Cosette have fallen in love, I was furious. Cosette is the child that I have sworn to protect, and I am fearful that Marius will get in the way of my mission. But, even though it is against my will, I realize that I must protect Marius at all costs, in order to keep Cosette happy.

Finally, who played you best, Colm Wilkinson on Broadway, or Hugh Jackman in the film?

Neither, actually. The best person to have played me on stage is John Owen Jones. Not only does he have similar initials to me, but he seems to know my character and personality extremely well. He has a crystal clear voice as well. Out of Colm Wilkinson and Hugh Jackman, I would say that Hugh Jackman portrayed me best.

Don’t miss this award-winning production that is FUN FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY!  Get your tickets now for "Les Misérables."