Samantha Barks broke audiences' hearts with her moving portrayal of Eponine in the Oscar-winning film 'Les Miserables,' and now the 22-year-old actress is opening up exclusively to J-14 about filming her emotional role, hanging out with costars Amanda Seyfried and Eddie Redmayne, and keeping in touch with former costar Nick Jonas.
'Les Miserables' is available on DVD and Blu-ray now.
J-14: In 'Les Miserables,' you got to work with an amazing cast, including Amanda Seyfried and Eddie Redmayne. Did you all hit it off right away?
Samantha Barks: We did! One of my final auditions was actually the first time we all sang together and it was something very special when we sang "Heart Full of Love." It felt right and I was struck by how cool and funny Amanda was. She made me laugh instantly. Working with A-list celebrities, you don't know what they're going to be like and she's just the coolest girl. She's brilliant. She makes everybody laugh, but yet the minute she's in the scene, she's such a fantastic actress. She can really switch it on and off. I already knew Eddie a little bit and I just couldn't believe how much of a gentleman he was. He's just the nicest guy ever. I'm so lucky to have worked with him.
J-14: In 'Les Mis,' your character Eponine deals with heartbreaking, unrequited love. How did you tap into those emotions?
Samantha: I think unrequited love is something we can all access. We've all either been there or had a best friend or sister or someone you know who has been through unrequited love. I felt like I was flying the flag for the brokenhearted in a way because people would be like, 'I so know what you're going through. I can feel Eponine's pain,'Â which is why she's such a great character to play. I have a lot of teen girls on Twitter who say, 'I'm having an Eponine day! Why am I always the Eponine? Why am I never Cosette?' And I'm like, 'I'm never Cosette! It's fine.'
J-14: When you originally did the stage show of 'Les Miserables' in London, you worked alongside Nick Jonas (who played Marius). Have you guys stayed in touch?
Samantha: Yeah, he's really cool. I've spoken to him since. What I think is so fantastic about how Nick was in Les Mis was that he had a younger fan base, and it was so fantastic to see so many young girls in the audience enjoying 'Les Mis' and I think that's what this film's done too. It's brought 'Les Mis' and musicals to a wider audience that wouldn't necessarily go to see 'Les Mis' and all of a sudden, it's a really popular film and that's really special. For me, growing up doing musical theater and being a big musical theater fan, it's exciting to see the fan base of musical theater growing.
J-14: What advice do you have for teens who want to follow in your footsteps?
Samantha: I think it's important to take risks and put yourself out of your comfort zone. I always say a lot of things that have happened to me in my career have happened because I threw myself in at the deep end and then I worked really hard. I wanted to be a singer, so I sung every hour under the sun. Do everything you can for yourself. Rehearse. Practice everyday. If you can't sing a certain song, sing it and sing it and sing it. Always throw yourself in the deep end and swim as hard as you can to swim up. And that's all you can do -- take risks and then work really hard because a certain element of things can be luck, but also the harder you work, the luckier you get. If you want something to happen, don't rely on external things to try to make that happen. Put your best self forward.
J-14: Such great advice! And what would 14-year-old Samantha Barks say if you told her how her life would turn out?
Samantha: She wouldn't say anything because she'd be in a state of shock, like mouth wide open going, 'Good on ya! You did me proud!' I'm still in shock that I'm lucky enough to have these experiences, and I think that the 14-year-old me would be speechless. I still can't believe it.
Edited by: Sora Hwang
Photo: Courtesy of Universal