Top 10 Portrayals of Jean Valjean in Les Miserables

The Top Ten
1 Colm Wilkinson

The original will always be the best. Colm really made the role his own, and he became a household name back in 1985 when the production opened. The song "Bring Him Home" was written for his singing voice, just like "Till I Hear You Sing" was written for Ramin Karimloo's voice in "Love Never Dies".

Colm returned to the role in 1995 for the 10th Anniversary at the Royal Albert Hall, where many of the actors who defined the roles around the world came together as the "Dream Cast" of Les Miserables. Colm is the BEST Valjean. He has so much emotion in his voice, and he really soars in those high notes. The voice of an angel.

2 Alfie Boe

The man who is Britain's number one tenor brings the same emotion and determination that Colm brought to the role. He takes that as inspiration and does it his own way. Additionally, the way he acts the role out is really compelling to me. The 25th Anniversary at the O2 really demonstrates that.

Say what you will about the cast, the new orchestration, and how it's sung at the O2, but every new interpretation is always welcome to me. Alfie is just as good as the others who have played Valjean over the years and, just like Colm, Ramin, and JOJ, he's been lucky enough to play the role on Broadway. He's a great Valjean, especially when he sings that famous song "Bring Him Home."

3 John Owen-Jones

Part of the 25th Anniversary Tour in 2010, John Owen-Jones has surprised everybody with his take on Valjean, having previously played the Phantom in "Phantom of the Opera". His Valjean is the most emotive and most determined that I have ever seen. In "The Confrontation", he really stands out with the level of anger towards Earl Carpenter's Javert, and his rendition of "Bring Him Home" always brings a tear to my eye when I listen to the way it's sung.

His voice really is a godsend. A fabulous Valjean and a really wonderful Phantom too.

4 Hugh Jackman

While I wasn't a big fan of the movie as a whole (Russell Crowe, anyone?), I did like Hugh Jackman as Valjean. The amount of commitment he gave to it was really amazing. Anne Hathaway was good too, but Jackman really surprised me as it was the first time I heard him sing. No wonder I then went to see The Greatest Showman at the cinema five years later.

Jackman really showed the emotion and the determined "can-do" attitude that was needed for Valjean. While his "Bring Him Home" wasn't the best (it wasn't bad though), the film could have been so much more than what we got. Nevertheless, Jackman should play this role on the stage sometime. In fact, I'll go tweet him now.

5 Peter Lockyer

When I went to see Les Mis at Queen's for my birthday during its 30th year, this man really surprised me as Valjean. His tenor voice really made my spine shiver when he sang those famous tunes, plus he looked good in the makeup and costume. His Valjean really stood out to me. Underrated.

6 Killian Donnally

The man who has had an incredible journey with Les Mis, starting out as a swing, then an understudy for Valjean, Javert, and Enjolras, then principal Enjolras, and more recently principal Jean Valjean. Through that time, he built his voice up to how it is now and really throws his hat in the ring when he plays the role.

Although he's finished his West End run, he will be playing the role for a UK/Ireland tour in 2019, and he is definitely worth going to see. His Valjean is so relatable, so tragic, and so moving. He really loves playing it, and it clearly shows.

7 Ramin Karimloo

After seeing him in Anastasia and Phantom, I fell in love with his straight tones that lead you into his beautiful vibrato. He is arguably one of the best on Broadway right now.

His powerful voice is so beautiful, but the gentleness that also flows with emotion transports me to a different world. I have loved listening to him sing in every role.

First Enjolras, then the Phantom, and now Jean Valjean. And he gives us what has to be the most powerful and emotional Jean Valjean I have ever seen. Is there nothing this man can't do?

8 Drew Sarich

This was the first Valjean I ever saw when I went to see Les Mis for the first time back in 2008. He really impressed me with his "rock star" singing voice. This was more suited to him than Javert was. I really liked him as Valjean. I thought he did an excellent job.

9 Geronimo Rauch

A talented tenor and a really excellently executed portrayal of Jean Valjean. The emotion, the determination, the rage, and the tender, loving heart really shine in this performer. No wonder a year later he went on to play the Phantom like many others on this list!

10 Simon Bowman

Never saw this man actually perform the role, but I heard him sing Bring Him Home and have seen him in costume. His voice is really suited for the role, and he looks like a man who wants to become a better person.

Not only an incredible voice, but as an actor, he added so much more.

The Contenders
11 Nick Cartell

His version of "Bring Him Home" wrecked me. And I wasn't alone. The orchestra was delayed in starting the next piece because of the overwhelmed audience (Portland, 2023) applauding and crying.

Amazing performer! Amazing voice! I've seen Les Mis numerous times over the years, and Nick's performance was absolutely hands-down perfection. He has earned a place alongside the best.

Just saw him as Jean Valjean at the Kennedy Center yesterday (probably not yesterday by the time you are reading this) because they are touring, but man can this guy SING. Nick Cartell pours emotion into every word he sings, and I really like the way he plays the role. It really is like he is trying to live a new life to protect Cosette.

His Bring Him Home was gorgeous, got chills on the last note (hooooooooooooooome). Anyway, super cool Valjean! He deserves a cookie! This guy is just great!

12 Gary Morris

He was Valjean when I saw Les Miserables on Broadway, and on the all-star cast recording. What a voice! To me, all the others are second place at best.

He did the recording that I grew up with and adds some great emotion to "The Confrontation" and others.

13 Randal Keith

I saw Randal many times in San Francisco, DC, and Baltimore. Always stopping the show after Bring Him Home. Closed the show on Broadway too.

14 Dean Chisnall

Probably the closest I've ever heard to John Owen-Jones in all my viewings!

15 Jeff Leyton

I have seen three others in this role, but I thought Jeff Leyton was the best. Not only his wonderful voice, but his interpretation of the role was excellent.

16 Michael Burgess

The Canadian Jean Valjean. He has a soft, soothing voice.

17 Will Barratt
18 Jon Robyns
19 Jean Gabin
20 Patrick Dunn
21 Dudu Fisher
22 Peter Karrie
23 Damien Wilson
24 Jonathan Williams
25 Dominic West
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