LONDON: “The Wire” star Dominic West is to play Jean Valjean in a new television adaptation of “Les Miserables” scripted by the master adapter Andrew Davies, the BBC said on Thursday.
“Spooks” star David Oyelowo will play his nemesis Javert, the relentless police inspector who dogs the life of the former convict, in the six-hour costume drama, which had previously been backed by disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.
“Jean Valjean is one of the great characters in world literature,” West said of the hero of Victor Hugo’s 1862 novel, which is regarded as one of the greatest of 19th century literature.
“His epic journey of redemption is one of the extraordinary roles an actor can take on, and I can’t wait to get stuck in to bringing Andrew Davies’ brilliant adaptation to the screen.”
The veteran adapter, now 81, was the brains behind a string of BBC costume drama hits including “Pride and Prejudice”, “Middlemarch” and “War & Peace”, most of which he adapted after retiring from his job as a university lecturer.
He described “Les Miserables”, the sprawling story of Valjean, who spent years in prison for stealing a loaf of bread for his starving sister, as a “huge, intense and gut-wrenching”.
“Most of us are familiar with the musical version, which only offers a fragmentary outline of its story,” which reaches its climax during the 1848 Revolution in Paris.
“I am thrilled to have the opportunity of doing real justice to Victor Hugo at last,” he said.
Davies also scripted the original British version of the political thriller “House of Cards”, as well as having a hand in the first two “Bridget Jones” films.
Weinstein — whose company pulled out of the project as claims that he raped and assaulted a string of actresses mounted — had said earlier that “with the exception of James Bond, nobody does it better than Andrew Davies.”