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Q&A: Les Mis' Eponine

Ruven Afanador

The actress, 22, from England's Isle of Man, endured 15 auditions before coming aboard.

THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER: Have you ever experienced unrequited love?

Samantha Barks: We all have. Because of that, I think on some level we all relate to Eponine. I'm lucky to have wonderful family and friends, and this girl doesn't; she's got such a dark life -- but we can relate to her pain because we remember the knife of heartbreak that you see in her.

THR: You were playing Eponine in Les Miserables in London when Cameron Mackintosh announced to the crowd that you'd been cast in the film. How did you feel?

Barks: This role was the most I've ever wanted in my life. It feels like my life led up to this point. To be taking it to this level, every day I'm having a pinch-me moment, where I just can't believe this is my life.

THR: How was the film different from being onstage? 

Barks: I'm used to singing eight shows a week for a year, but I'm not used to singing at five in the morning. It's a short amount of time, but it's super-intense. When you're facing conditions where you're soaking wet, you've been singing all day, you've been crying, you're tired -- you've got to just remain calm, shut off slightly, because you're in such an emotional state. But at the end of the day, it's equally important to leave that emotion at the door and say, "OK, I'm going home to have a nice, normal conversation with my friends."

THR: Or hang out with the cast at Russell Crowe's house?

Barks: The first time I hung out with Russell was at one of his dinner parties. We realized that we really liked singing together. We're pals.