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As Universal touts the release of Les Miserables, boasting a roster of A-list names including Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway and Amanda Seyfried, there is one key player whose name no one seems to know.
PHOTOS: ‘Les Miserables’: Anne Hathaway, Hugh Jackman Pose for THR
It seems everyone in Hollywood does, however, know Isabelle Allen’s face. The blond-haired girl with striking blue eyes is featured on several billboards and promotional ads as part of a worldwide ad campaign, in an homage to the iconic Les Miserables logo first created by Russ Eglin in 1985 for the London stage production.
In a 1992 interview with Desert News, Eglin said that the Cosette logo was adapted from French illustrator Emile Bayard‘s original engraving from the first edition of Victor Hugo‘s novel. “The album sleeve had Cosette as a full-length figure holding one of those twig brooms. She looked too much like Cinderella not going to the ball,” he said, explaining that he chose to instead focus on her face. “It’s a powerful image,” he added. “The face is very appealing.”
And while Allen’s face is plastered across the background of IMDb (and included as the film’s main image), the young thesp’s name was ranked 61 — after “Convicts 1-5,” “Innkeeper,” “Jailer,” “Factory Woman 1-9,” “Pimp,” “Head Whore,” “Organ Grinder” and many more — on the site’s film credits at the time of publication. As for those billboards and posters that can currently be spotted coast-to-coast, her name is rarely — if ever — included alongside her co-stars.
So who is the little girl that nabbed the coveted role of young Cosette?
According to a bio provided to The Hollywood Reporter by Universal, Allen was discovered by Jeremy James Taylor, head of the National Youth Music Theatre, who directed her in a school play (The Pied Piper, in which she played the male lead) in her hometown of Eastbourne, East Sussex. Taylor was so impressed with the 10-year-old that he asked talent agent Gaynor Shaw to meet with Allen and consider representing her. Ultimately, it was Shaw who brought Allen to Les Mis casting director Nina Gold. The rest, as they say, is history.
On Monday, Allen stepped out at the premiere of Les Mis at the Ziegfeld Theater in New York City with her mother by her side. “Most of my friends like acting, so they’re going to be really excited,” she told THR of her impending return to England.
During her stay in the Big Apple, Isabelle stopped by the American Girl store, where she purchased a doll, as well as the famed FAO Schwartz toy store.
In the Tom Hooper-directed musical adaptation, Allen plays the illegitimate daughter of Hathaway’s Fantine. As Cosette grows older, she is played by Seyfried. “We’re e-mail buddies now,” the 27-year-old actress says of Allen, with whom she shared no scenes. “It’s so wonderful to watch somebody come into this world so bright-eyed, and she’s really taking it well. It’s a zoo, and she represents our movie, and I couldn’t imagine anybody else. She’s the perfect poster child for Les Mis.”
While Les Mis is Allen’s first professional engagement, she is bound to catch the eye of casting agents on both sides of the pond. At the time of publication, no future projects had been solidified and e-mails to Shaw went unreturned. But Allen did say that she will “hopefully” continue working in the industry. For now, Allen is committed to playing young Cosette in London’s West End stage production of Les Mis through March.
Asked what it was like working with such legendary actors in her first big-screen role, Allen — joined by Daniel Huttlestone, who plays the young Gavroche — said: “They gave us lots of tips and mostly [made] sure we were all OK. They were really nice.”
Additional reporting by Jordan Zakarin.
Email: Sophie.Schillaci@THR.com; Twitter: @SophieSchillaci
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