If you're not into musicals and really long books, you might not have had an entry point into Les Misérables before. However, with BBC One's TV miniseries — which includes no singing – rapidly approaching, now might be your opportunity to finally hear the people (not) sing. If you do have a deep devotion to the musical and/or Victor Hugo's original novel, you shouldn't be disappointed either. The assemblage of well casted actors brings this legendary story to life once more, including the man who plays Marius. But who is Josh O'Connor, the actor behind all the lovelorn?
If you've seen that handsome face anywhere, it'll most likely be from the devastatingly emotional 2017 film God's Own Country. O'Connor played the starring role in it, as his part as farmer Johnny Saxby saw him sadly sleepwalking through life, with a lot of booze and bad sex to try and get him through. It's an intensely impactful performance, and I'm sure that anyone who's seen the film will also be expecting great things from O'Connor in Les Mis.
His appearance in Les Mis as Marius is as similarly sentimental as his performance in God's Own Country. For those not so well acquainted with Les Mis, O'Connor outlined his character to the BBC on Dec. 12.
"Marius is a young, upper class French chap," he says, as he pinpoints how Marius' "ongoing battle about where he lies politically," occurs when "he meets Cosette, whom he discovers is the love of his life. He has to choose between love and his political and social conscience."
O'Connor grew up in Cheltenham, and he told Verge he used to have a "distinct and thick" Gloucestershire accent, but he "lost it" as he got older. "I live in London now and I don’t fit in there; it’s clear that I need to be by trees and fields," he told Verge. "I’m a true country boy." A graduate of Bristol Old Vic, he told the publication that his big break came in The Riot Club, but before that he "worked in a bar for a little while," as well as "in the fruit and veg section of a posh supermarket," where he was a "banana specialist."
Since then, his career has really taken off. You might have noticed him earlier this year when he was shortlisted for the 2018 BAFTA Rising Star Award, which the Radio Times reported on Jan. 18. Or maybe it was in Florence Foster Jenkins, where he starred opposite Hugh Grant. "I was so terrified," he told Screen Daily. "We had a 10-minute conversation about coffee once, and I now know that I prefer a flat white." Y
ou may also have seen him in his role as Lawrence in ITV's The Durrells — in which he proved himself as a seriously hard working actor. He spoke about the experience of shooting for the show to the Guardian on Aug. 27, 2017, recalling how he'd have to "get up at 6 a.m., go up the hill to the sheep in the Land Rover, then come down later in the morning to fix a fence or a broken paddock," in order to prepare for the role. He also scrubbed up pretty well when he starred in Peaky Blinders alongside Cillian Murphy.
He played James Eeles in three episodes in 2014 according to his IMDB page, but it was enough to showcase him as a distinct acting talent. Before you catch him as Marius on Les Mis, go ahead and stalk his Twitter. He tweets pretty regularly — about everything from politics to TV. On his Twitter, he also recently confirmed: "I love the musical," in response to the Les Mis director, Andrew Davies telling The Telegraph that he finds the musical "awful."
There might be some drama there, but the real drama takes place on BBC One at 9 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 30, as the first episodes in the Les Mis mini-series is set to premiere.