Aussie leads had Les Miz roles in the bag

The creative team behind Les Miserables were never in any doubt over their two leading men.

Hugh Jackman, who plays Jean Valjean in Les Miserables, is expected in Sydney today.

Hugh Jackman, who plays Jean Valjean in Les Miserables, is expected in Sydney today.

Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe, who will walk the red carpet for the film's Sydney premiere today, were the first names on the list when director Tom Hooper and producer Cameron Mackintosh began casting for the film.

Hooper admits to showing a bias for Australian actors, having previously cast Geoffrey Rush and Guy Pearce in his Oscar-winning film The King's Speech.

Les Miserables is also tipped for award season glory, with Jackman nominated in the Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild and London Critics' Circle Film awards.

"Hugh Jackman likes to joke that Les Miserables was made by two and a half Australians," Hooper said yesterday.

"I'm half Australian on my mum's side, who comes from Adelaide, so I've been back and forth countless times and clearly have a bias.

"Australia does keep producing these amazing film actors and I was just struck that I was the first director to cast Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe together."

In fact the Australian pair, instrumental to Les Miserables as the battling Jean Valjean and Javert, were earmarked for the lead roles nearly twenty ago.

Mackintosh, who produced the original stage version 30 years ago and has also produced Phantom Of The Opera , first noticed Jackman's talents in the 1996 musical Beauty And The Beast. Around the same time Crowe was treading the boards in The Blues Brothers before making his big break in film.

"I always felt that as two Aussies they would have great chemistry together and so it has proved," said Mackintosh.

Les Miserables opens in Australia on Boxing Day. AAP


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