At 22, Taylor Swift was serenading us with new songs from her "Red" album and dipping her toes into the world of acting. During an appearance on BBC One's "The Graham Norton Show" on Friday, Swift, joined by Eddie Redmayne, shared the story of her "nightmare" "Les Misérables" audition.
"I once died in [Redmayne's] arms in a screen test for 'Les Mis,'" Swift recalled. "There's a lot that people don't know about this story. Basically, I was up for two roles in 'Les Mis,' and I'd done a few auditions and gone to New York and whatever. I think it had been established that I had more of a look of Cosette but I had the range, vocally, of Éponine, so it was established that I was there for a good time, not a long time."
"I was like, 'This has immediately become a nightmare for me.'"
While Swift was fairly certain by that point that she wouldn't be offered either role in the film, she was quick to accept an invitation to London to do one final audition alongside Redmayne. "I was like, 'This seems like an experience I want to have in my life,'" she said before turning to Redmayne. "You're like one of my favorite actors. You're so ridiculously talented."
When she arrived for the audition, the crew were quick to break some bad news to her. "They're like, 'We're actually going to paint your teeth brown for this.' And I'm like, 'So you're going to do that after I meet Eddie Redmayne, right? That's not something you do before? I get to meet people and then you do the brown teeth?'" To her disappointment, the makeup chair was her first stop, and the beauty team transformed her into Éponine, complete with circles under her eyes to make her appear as though she was "near death." She continued, "I was like, 'This has immediately become a nightmare for me.'"
Swift said she was reserved upon meeting the actor, but Redmayne said their initial meeting was equally awkward for him. "You walked in as a 19th-century street urchin, and I was not expecting that," Redmayne recalled, adding that he was focused more on his breath during the screen test than Swift's appearance. "I had just been to Pizza Express beforehand, and I had had some garlic dough balls. I thought we were going to be singing off of each other, but they had us — also, it was so weird because Taylor was dressed fully as Éponine and I was in my track suit — on the floor singing sweet nothings to each other, and all I knew is I had just had garlic bread."
Laughing, the "Anti-Hero" singer said she was relieved to hear she wasn't the only one feeling embarrassed at the time. "You were weeping, and I just thought it was because of how I looked . . . It's nice to hear we were both struggling in that moment."
The role of Éponine eventually went to Samantha Barks, while Cosette was played by Amanda Seyfried, but Swift has since starred in a handful of films, including 2019's "Cats" with Jennifer Hudson, Sir Ian McKellen, Dame Judi Dench, Jason Derulo, and more. Watch Swift tell her full audition story above.