Ellie talked about her next work, the BBC mini-series Les Misérables, with WWD during the Chanel Haute Couture Show today in Paris.
“It’s like a terrarium,” said Ellie Bamber, who had wrapped filming “Les Mis” the day before. (The six-part drama adaptation of Victor Hugo’s 19th century classic also stars Dominic West and Lily Collins, with Bamber in the role of Cosette.)
“It was really challenging, it’s been amazing creating Cosette’s journey. I feel like there are so many new things that an audience is going to see that, if they’ve watched the musical, they might not know about,” she said. “The book is 1,500 pages long, Victor Hugo goes into so much detail, and [screenwriter] Andrew Davies has captured that so well.”
Coming “from that to this was just beautiful,” she continued, adding: “I sat in my room and had French onion soup last night — it’s something I do every time I come to Paris.”
Ellie Bamber is no stranger when it comes to the classics. The 21-year-old is set to portray Louise in the upcoming film The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, followed by a starring role in the BBC’s six-part version of the iconic musical Les Misérables. And while Ellie’s version of Cosette (played in the 2012 film by Amanda Seyfried) won’t be hitting any high E’s — since the series will not be a musical — the performer is certainly comfortable singing her heart out.
Ellie tells Teen Vogue on the set of the Young Hollywood shoot that her first dip into acting was onstage, in a musical called Aspects of Love. From there, the rest is basically history, since she fell in love with performing. Incidentally, this won’t be Ellie’s first trip to 19th-century France; she also performed in a production of Les Mis when she was in school. However, she adds that Cosette is “a dream role,” noting that this version of the musical will be a totally different experience.
“You’re going to see these characters in different ways because we’re going back to the original novel,” Ellie explains, citing the 1,400-page classic by Victor Hugo. “We’re bringing details that have never been seen before,” she adds, describing elements being included as “very romantic” and “stunning.” The actor notes that fans of the musical are in for a “new and interesting” take on the popular Broadway classic. She starts filming in Brussels soon and has gotten a chance to see some of the wardrobe — which she knows is an essential part of telling a character’s journey.
The young artist’s upcoming projects may take her out of the theater momentarily, but she raves about the lessons she’s learned while working on productions in venues both big and small. She recounts doing the musical comedy High Society at the Old Vic in London and working with Kwame Kwei-Armah, who changed the way she looks at new roles. Ellie describes the experience as being like one big family, thanks to spending countless hours in a close environment, which included plenty of dancing around to playlists brought in by the other performers.
For Ellie, one of the best parts of revamping these classic titles is bringing in new audiences. Even if musical theater isn’t your cup of tea, you might fall in love with this version of Les Mis and want to go see it onstage — and Ellie hopes that’s exactly what happens. “There is really nothing like seeing a live stage performance,” she promises.
Les Mis isn’t the only classic that Ellie gets to bring into 2018. She tells Teen Vogue that The Nutcracker — which will be released in theaters in November — is a “reimagining” of the traditional story found within the holiday-themed ballet. The film also stars Twilight’s Mackenzie Foy as Clara, Keira Knightley as the Sugar Plum Fairy, and Helen Mirren as Mother Ginger.
In addition to her passion for telling timeless stories, Ellie cares deeply about gender equality within Hollywood — especially in light of the current Time’s Up movement. She notes that it’s essential to have women behind the camera as well as onscreen, adding that everything that happens behind the scenes “translates to the front.”
“The idea of bringing equality not just to entertainment but to every walk of life, I think it’s very important,” she says. “There should be no segregation. Everyone should be united, and everyone should be seen as equals.”
If Ellie has her way, Hollywood will continue down this path. She hopes that roles will continue to get better for women, and she also looks forward to obtaining more challenging roles herself — ones that would “take me somewhere that maybe I haven’t been before.” Given that she’s already accomplished so much, we’re expecting to see her go to many new places — and continue to shine all the way.
During a recent interview with Women’s Wear Daily, Ellie said she is learning to play piano for Les Misérables.
“I am learning piano at the moment for a TV adaptation ‘Les Miserables’ with Dominic West. I play Cosette, who I also played at school. I can just about read music, and I can sing, but I’m a long way off being able to play by ear but I really love being able to learn another skill and the fact that I can have a keyboard in my living room, so I can go off and do other things then come back and play piano for a bit.”
Ellie plays Cosette in the BBC’s new adaptation that begins filming in March in Belgium. According to reports filming will take place until July.
Ellie spent time visiting and learning about the partnerships and initiatives with the communities we are working to empower during a visit to Zimbabwe in July 2017. The visit inspired her to assist with raising awareness of our work, leveraging on unique opportunities she has by connecting with and inspiring many people through her work in film and theatre.
Ellie stayed at Somalisa Camp in Hwange National Park and during her visit she learned about our projects in the area, including a visit to the Umtshibi Camp Pre-school, Hwange Main Camp Primary School and the Secondary School & some of the income generation projects in Dete. After her visit Ellie said that; “The thing that really resonated with me is the fact they are helping people and animals simultaneously. It’s such a great cause and one I’m really passionate about.”
The thing that really resonated with me is the fact they are helping people and animals simultaneously. Its such a great cause and one that I’m really passionate about.
Looking forward, Ellie will be working to run events and raise awareness in her endeavours around the world and will periodically return to Zimbabwe to visit the projects and see their progress. We are very excited to have Ellie on board.
We asked Ellie a few questions to help understand a bit more about her what inspired her to kindly take up the role as African Bush Camps Foundation Ambassador.
African Bush Camps Foundation (ABCF): It is really great that you have decided to support and help raise awareness about the work the African Bush Camps Foundation does in Zimbabwe, Botswana & Zambia. What made you want to take on the role of an ambassador?
Ellie: I went on holiday to Zambia and Zimbabwe this year, and whilst there I had the opportunity to see so much of the amazing work ABC do and it was just incredibly inspiring. Firstly, can I just say that it was an absolute honour to be asked to be their ambassador! All the things I saw, the people I met, their dedication to improving and making a better and safer life for themselves and the wildlife, there was no question for me to want to help.
ABCF: Where did you grow up, and has there always been an interest in community and conservation in your life?
Ellie: I was born in Surrey but grew up in a country village in Berkshire that has a great community which works hard to protect and conserve the village and surrounding natural areas, so yes I have grown up and have been instilled with a strong sense and knowledge and importance of both.
ABCF: Through your work as an actress in film, television and theatre you have a unique reach of people. What would be the key message about The African Bush Camps Foundation you would like people to know about?
Ellie: My message would be that when I saw what was being done by ABC, the way they work along-side the local communities, in a non-profit aid to conservation in partnership with the local people and also to help the wildlife – it made me feel humble and very lucky and ultimately want to help.
This was a life-changing trip for me.
Ellie: Oh wow the safaris were incredible experiences. Getting up in the early hours with the excitement of what you might see, set in the beauty of the surroundings, was jaw dropping in fact! I loved the elephants and was especially excited when we saw Cecil’s Pride!
All the guides are so knowledgeable that I learnt so many interesting facts!
ABCF: What is your favourite African wild animal, and why?
Ellie: The Elephants! When I watched them in their natural habitat, taking in their sheer enormity but yet seeing how gracefully they move both the young and the old together, just so beautiful and majestic.
ABCF: The ethos of our work is to partner with rural communities located in vulnerable wildlife areas to improve their quality of life and achieve long-term conservation. You visited some of the projects whilst you were in Zimbabwe. How did you enjoy meeting the Zimbabwean people and communities we work with?
Ellie: Where do I start! I met the Rangers, I met their families, I met children of all ages and actually didn’t want to leave! The people are so genuine and it was great to meet and chat to the children too. They were just beyond excited to show and tell me all about the new classroom and toilet facilities that are now being added thanks to the work of ABC.