Hugh Jackman's role of a lifetime

Scott Pelley profiles the Australian actor who now says he's doing the "role of a lifetime" as Jean Valjean in "Les Miserables"

The following script is from "Hugh Jackman" which aired on Dec. 9, 2012. Scott Pelley is the correspondent. Ruth Streeter, producer.

"Les Miserables," among the greatest novels of the 19th century, became one of the most successful Broadway musicals of the 20th century. And this month Hollywood gambles that this epic story has the power to revive the musical form on the screen. Director Tom Hooper has spent $61 million recreating a Paris rebellion and filling scenes with actors including Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman.

No actor combines the talents of a Broadway song and dance man with the film presence of an action hero the way that Jackman does. He won stardom playing a murderous mutant on film and then, won a Tony playing a gay entertainer on stage. When we met him, in his native Australia, the 44-year-old actor told us that everything he has done in a wide-ranging career has led him to this, one, moment.

In "Les Miserables," Jackman plays one of the most heroic characters in literature, Jean Valjean, imprisoned for stealing bread for his sister's starving family, an angry brute of a man whose sentence extends to 19 years because of his hunger to escape. His nemesis is Inspector Javert played by Russell Crowe.

["Les Miserables": Look down, look down, don't look him in the eye. Look down, look down, you're here until you die.]

Hugh Jackman: Any movie musical is like Mount Everest. I think it's the most difficult form ever to pull off in film. When it works, it's spectacular. When it doesn't, it stinks to high heaven.

Scott Pelley: This film is either going to be a hit or it's going to be a massive bust.

Hugh Jackman: Yup.

Scott Pelley: Why did you take the risk on it?

Hugh Jackman: Jean Valjean is the holy grail for me. It's, I know that it demands everything from me, as a singer, as an actor to pull it off. It's the role of a lifetime.

The story, written by Victor Hugo in 1862, follows Valjean's redemption against the backdrop of a failed revolt against the monarchy.

["Les Miserables": He is young... he's afraid.]

The film is unique in the way that the actors sang their roles. Usually in musicals, they record songs in a sound studio and then lip sync when the camera rolls. But in Les Miz, they sang in the moment.

["Les Miserables": Bring him home, bring him home, bring him home.]

Hugh Jackman: We would wear a little ear piece where someone off the set there was playing music. And we would hear the live piano, and we would just sing.

Scott Pelley: What do you get from that?