Taylor Swift knew she wasn’t going to get a part in the 2012 movie adaptation of Les Misérables, and by the time she made it to a screen test with Eddie Redmayne—one of her “favorite actors”—she was in over her head, she said this week on The Graham Norton Show.
“When I got there, they put me in full 19th century street urchin costume and told me they were going to paint my teeth brown and I was like, ‘You are going to do that after I meet Eddie Redmayne right?’” she said during an interview that will air Friday.
They did not wait until after she met Redmayne.
“They made me look like death and it became a nightmare,” Swift said. “When I met Eddie I didn’t open my mouth to speak!”
It turns out Redmayne was also deeply concerned about his mouth during the screen test. “My overriding memory of it is that I had pizza and garlic dough balls beforehand and all I could think about was my garlic breath while Taylor was dying in my arms and I was trying to show emotion,” Redmayne, who was also a guest on Graham Norton, said.
Redmayne said he’d thought the pair “would just be singing off each other,” but instead they simply acted out Éponine’s death scene. I’m picturing Redmayne bad-breath-emoting at Swift, who is not exactly an experienced thespian, as she does her best dying impression. I can only imagine neither gave their best performances.
Swift said she was up for the two female leads, the beautiful Cosette and Éponine, the aforementioned urchin. “I had the look of Cosette and the range vocally of Éponine, so it was established I was there for a good time but not for a long time,” she said. “I wasn’t going to get the role.”
To risk sounding a little too “stars, they’re just like us,” I also would have jumped at the chance to perform with one of my favorite actors on the off chance that I’d be cast in a highly anticipated movie. But based on Swift’s experience, maybe I need to reexamine that impulse.