Les Miserables star Dominic West has said he wants the BBC’s “visual feast” of an adaptation to bring viewers back to the series’ source material.
The English actor stars as Jean Valjean in the six-part TV drama, adapted from Victor Hugo’s novel of the same name.
West, best known for television roles in The Wire and The Affair, said it would be a “great thing” if his portrayal of the conflicted protagonist caused people to return to the French historical novel.
He said: “It’s been a real inspiration and total joy to bring this masterpiece to dramatic life and if our portrayal brings people back to the book then that is a great thing.
“What is the most interesting thing about Valjean is his moral core and his battle with his own demons to be a good man.
“He is a true hero in that way. He is constantly persecuted but he strives to save others’ lives and do the right thing.”
West said he felt veteran scriptwriter Andrew Davies, 82, had once again proved himself a “master of condensing and distillation”.
Welshman Davies recently adapted Leo Tolstoy’s War And Peace for the BBC, and has been a Bafta Fellow since 2002.
West added: “Andrew Davies is a master of condensing and distillation. He has distilled a massive book into six hours of television. He’s been at it a long time.
“He’s so experienced. Whenever I’ve opened a book and thought, ‘oh this is a bit I particularly like’, it’s in his script. In that way, it’s very exciting because I don’t remember the last time when a book was dealt with in such detail.”
The 49-year-old also added that viewers should expect grand ambition from the series, which avoids the songs of the musical theatre production and 2012 film.
He said: “We have created massive epic scenes for the battle of Waterloo, the barricades and street fighting in 19th century Paris. It’s a real visual feast.”
The first episode of the series will air on December 30 at 9pm on BBC One.