NEW YORK -- Back when the first trailer came out for Les Miserables last summer, it became clear that Anne Hathaway had sacrificed her lush brown locks to perform Fantine in the movie-musical version of the global stage sensation that opens Christmas Day.
But her severe haircut for the tragic role of a factory worker turned prostitute who sells her crowning glory to provide for young daughter Cosette was done not in a beauty parlor but on camera.
And it was Hathaway's idea. "Tom did not ask me to do it," she says, referring to Tom Hooper, the Oscar-winning director of The King's Speech.
While it looks as if Nicola Sloane -- who plays the "hair crone," as she is listed in the credits -- does the job, she only snipped half of Hathaway's head.
"She is a wonderful actress but she is not a hairdresser," the star explains. "There was a costume change while Paul Gooch, my hair and makeup artist, put on her costume and did the rest. I was expecting it to be more painful and savage, but Paul is such a loving person, he was very gentle with me when he did it. Even though it looks brutal onscreen, there is a gentleness to it which I actually thought was a stronger choice in the story. "
Maybe too gentle. Hooper had to make sure that Hathaway did not look as if she just stepped out of a Vidal Sassoon salon
"It is very funny," the director recalls. "We were filming and her hair stylist was cutting away. And I thought, 'Oh, my God, he's giving her a really nice haircut. It's like a cute little pixie haircut.' I pulled Paul aside and said, 'It has to look like you hacked it off casually with a knife.' He went, 'OK.' Luckily, at the last minute, he was able to make it nasty."
Gooch was so successful with his butchery that Hathaway has admitted to being inconsolable after the deed was done. But, as she has stated previously, "It was all worth it because, at the very end of the shot, I turned around and I saw Paul, beautiful Paul, in the dress with his arms outstretched. It was totally worth it just for that."