PBS anthology continues new adaptation of Victor Hugo classic
Q: Since you’re now dramatizing it on “Masterpiece,” what is your own history with “Les Miserables”?
A: It was the best book I ever read. I prefer it to Tolstoy or anything. It’s extraordinary when you find yourself actually reading the extra five chapters about the history of the Paris sewers, and you think you couldn’t possibly be interested. But (author Victor) Hugo is just such a master storyteller, he sees the story in everything.
If you haven’t read it, it’s a great, great treat — and the great thing about it is it doesn’t take any getting into, which most books do, I find. You’re straight in there with the Bishop of Digne, and I actually loved it. I thought Valjean was the best superhero of all time. He scales buildings like Spider-Man and he speaks a lot like Iron Man, but neither of those characters has done 19 years hard labor in a French prison camp. So, he is the toughest of them all. He has struggled against his own demons, and he has struggled to do the right thing, the loving thing, rather than the vengeful thing, I think it’s an amazing book and a rattling good read.
Q: How do you measure playing Jean Valjean against portraying Noah Solloway on “The Affair”?
A: Living with Jean Valjean is a wonderful experience. Living with Noah Solloway is not. You know, these people get to you. Actually, I’ve discovered that although making evil is more dramatic, it’s more easily made. The devil has the best jokes, and it’s much easier to make evil interesting.
It’s much more interesting to make good interesting. It’s much harder, and I think it’s well worth it … because at the end of the day, I really realized with this that if you believe in the subject matter, and if you really believe it’s a story that needs to be told and that will benefit people, it really makes a difference to your day and getting out of bed.
Jay Bobbin has decades of experience covering the television and movie businesses, winning Tribune Media Services’ Crown Jewel Award in 2008 for his performance in the company. Over those many years of interviewing and writing, he has spoken with everyone from Robert De Niro and John Travolta to Paul McCartney and Tony Bennett … from Meryl Streep and Julie Andrews to Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.