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Jean Valjean

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Jean Valjean
Jean Valjean Portrait
Biographical information
Also Known As

Monsieur Madeleine
Monsieur Le Maire
Ultime Fauchelevent
Monsieur Leblanc
Urbain Fabre






1833 (aged 64)

Cause of Death

Old age/Grief


Jean Valjean (father)
Jeanne Mathieu (mother)
Unnamed (brother)
Jeanne (sister)
Unnamed (nieces and nephews)
Cosette (daughter; adopted)

Behind the scenes

Maurice Barrier
Colm Wilkinson
Alexander Gemignani
Michael Burgess
Robert Marien
John Owen-Jones
Alfie Boe
Ramin Karimloo
Liam Neeson
Gérard Depardieu
Hugh Jackman
Christian Markus Valencia
Daniel Koek
Peter Lockyer
Jonathan Williams
Waltur Bekk
Geronimo Rauch

Jean Valjean is the main protagonist of Les Misérables.



Jean Valjean as Monsieur Madeleine

Valjean was born from a poor peasant family. His parents died when he was very young, leaving him with his older sister to fend for him. Unfortunately, his sister is widowed, having seven children to look after, the eldest being eight and the youngest being one year old. Valjean found work as a tree pruner in Faverolles, the same as his father, earning only a few sous a day. Winter passed. Valjean could not work, and so the family starved. He became a convict, imprisoned for breaking the window pane of Maubert Isabeau, the baker, to steal a loaf of bread to feed his sister's children. He was sent to prison for five years for "burglary at night in an inhabited house". He is paroled from prison 19 years later (after 4 unsuccessful escape attempts added 12 years and fighting back during the second escape attempt added 2 extra years).

He entered the galleys in Toulon in 1796 and left in 1815. He encounters the bishop Monsieur Myriel, the bishop of Digne who turns his life around by showing him mercy and encouraging him to become a changed man. While sitting and pondering on what Monsieur Myriel had said, he accidentally puts his foot on a forty-sous piece dropped by a young chimney-sweep named Petit Gervais. Valjean threatens him with his stick when he attempts to rouse Valjean from his reverie and retrieve his piece. He tells a passing priest his name, and the name of the young chimney-sweep, and this allows the police to charge him with armed robbery...a sentence that, if he were caught again, would return him to prison with a death-sentence.

Several years later, Valjean fulfills his promise to Monsieur Myriel and becomes a changed man under the alias Monsieur Madaline in the city of Montreuil-sur-Mer. After a few years in the city, he is elected mayor and revolutionizes the city's economy, building many factories and creating many jobs. He became a very famous, influential, popular and charitable man.

After unwittingly letting his foreman dismiss a factory worker named Fantine, he accidentally becomes wrapped up in the events that ruined her life, making her fall into poverty. After realising the damage he had done, he had the former worker taken from the custody of Javert and sent to a hospital, where he swore to bring her child to her side.

Meanwhile, Valjean discovered that Javert, the police inspector who had recently began working under his supervision in the city, had recognized him as Valjean. He was visited by the inspector who's guilt over his accusations (that he was told to be false) made him wish for dismissal. After letting Javert remain at his post, Valjean set off to find the man who was to go to sentence in his place.

After admitting to being the convict, Valjean returned to Fantine's bedside, where he was confronted by Javert. After hearing Javert cry out Madaline's true identity and the fact that her daughter was not present, Fantine lost her will to live and died of her illness. Valjean surrendered to Javert, but swiftly escaped to rescue Cosette, Fantine's daughter.

After successfully rescuing Cosette, Valjean was offered shelter in a convent by Fauchelevant, an old man who he had rescued from beneath his cart while he was mayor. After smuggling Valjean in initially, he later had to smuggle him out in a coffin for him to stay officially. Valjean stayed in the convent with Cosette as his own daughter.


Jean Valjean was an adventurous, brave and selfless man. This is shown frequently throughout the story: He attempts to steal a loaf of bread to save his nephew, he sent Fantine to the hospital when it was evident she was dying, he went to save Cosette from the Thenadiers and hid them both from Javert at the heart of Paris, and he also did everything in his capability to keep Marius Pontmercy alive. He was highly intelligent and extremely perceptive: He could see past the Thenadiers' attempts to keep Cosette as a petty servant, and also was able to determine Javert's fear of mercy. Due to his fear of being made a slave again, Valjean suffered from extreme paranoia and desperation. His fear of going back to prison led him to be on the run for the rest of his life. It also made him fear for his own life and those around him, particularly Cosette. However, Valjean made up for this with his enormous capacity for courage, shown in his heroic efforts to rescue Marius from the soldiers when the latter was fatally injured.

Due to his twenty years spent as a slave, Valjean was extremely strong and agile. He could carry incredible weight, including fallen masts and carts, with borderline ease and uses his strength to fight off Javert in the hospital. He was also aware of his own strength, as he warns Javert of his physical power, despite the latter refusing to cease attacking. He was a fairly skilled marksman, as he manages to escape the Revolution with his life. His strength also gave him an edge in unarmed combat.



Act IEdit

Act IIEdit

List of PortrayersEdit


  • Maurice Barrier – Original French Concept Album, Original Paris stage cast
  • Colm Wilkinson – Original London cast, Original Broadway cast, 1995: 10th Anniversary concert
  • Michael Burgess – Original Canadian cast, 10th Anniversary concert (as one of the 17 Valjeans)
  • Riles Phan – 1987 Glasgow cast
  • Øystein Wiik - 1988-1989 Original Norwegian Cast, Berlin and West End, 10th Anniversary concert ( as one of the 17 Valjeans)
  • Zenon Bester, Krzysztof Stasierowski, Jerzy Jeszke - 1989-2000, Musical Theatre in Gdynia
  • Matthew Farrer – 1990 Fredicton cast
  • Robert Marien – 1991 Paris revival, 10th Anniversary concert (as one of the 17 Valjeans)
  • Pedro Ruy-Blas - 1992/94 Madrid Cast
  • Sinan Osman – 1997 Florida cast
  • Jeff Leyton - 1997 Concert in Chelmsford
  • Takeshi Kaga - Original Japanese Cast, 10th Anniversary concert (as one of the 17 Valjeans), 1994 Japanese Red Cast and 1987-2001 Japanese Tour
  • Sagae Takita - Original Japanese Cast and 1994 Japanese Blue Cast and 1987-2001 Japanese Tour
  • Eugène Évariste Favager – 1998 Québec cast
  • John Pascall – 1998 Dover tour
  • Ray Mangion - 2001 Malta tour
  • Carlos Vittori - 2002 Commissioning Mexican scene 
  • J. Mark McVey - 2002 West End production
  • Kiyotaka Imai - 2003 Japanese Violet Cast and 2003-2009 and 2011 Japanese tour
  • Kazutaka Ishii - 2003 Japanese Light Blue Cast and 2003-2006 Japanese tour
  • Tetsuya Bessho - 2003 Japanese Green Cast and 2003-2011 Japanese tour
  • Yuichiro Yamaguchi - 2003 Japanese Orange Cast and 1997-2011 Japanese tour
  • Alexander Gemignani – 2006 Broadway revival
  • John Owen-Jones – 2006-2008: Broadway revival
  • Satoshi Hashimoto - 2007-2009 Japanese Tour
  • Peter Avsenick, Jason Widdrington – 2008 Vancouver youth production
  • Theo Nanos – 2009 St. John's cast
  • Petr Gazdík, Jan Ježek - 2009 Czech Brno production
  • Gerónimo Rauch – 2010-2011 (Madrid). 2011-2012 (Barcelona)
  • Ramin Karimloo – 2011-2012: The Queen's Theater, 2013 Toronto cast, 2013/14 Toronto tour, 2014 Broadway revival
  • Alfie Boe – 25th Anniversary Concert at the O2
  • Mitsuo Yoshihara - 2011-2015 Japanese tour and 2013 Japanese 25th Anniversary tour
  • Shoichi Fukui - 2013 Japanese 25th Anniversary tour and 2015 Japanese Tour
  • Kim Hyun Joon - 2013 Japanese 25th Anniversary tour
  • Gerónimo Rauch – 2012-2013: West End production.
  • Daniel Koek - 2012-2014: West End Production
  • Cameron Neal - School Edition at the Elgiva theatre
  • Janusz Kruciński - 2010-2012 Roma Theatre in Warsaw
  • RGS High Wycombe 2013 School Edition - Jonah Halton
  • Damian Aleksander - 2010-2012 Roma Theatre in Warsaw
  • Peter Lockyer - 2012/13 Toronto/25th Anniversary USA tour, 2014-2015 West End Production (Current)
  • Nicolás Martinelli – 2013-2014 Spain Tour
  • Felipe Forastiere – 2014-2014 Spain Tour (alternate)
  • Jonathan Williams - 2014-2015 West End Production
  • Daniel Diges – 2014-2015 Spanish Tour
  • Yang Joon Mo - 2015 Japanese Tour
  • Aaron Neale – Lawrence Park CI's 2014 school edition
  • Simon Gleeson - 2014 Melbourne Production


  • Maurice Costello – 1909 film
  • Henry Krauss – 1913 films
  • William Farnum – 1917 film
  • Gabriel Gabrio – 1925 film
  • Harry Baur – 1934 films
  • Fredric March – 1935 film
  • Gino Cervi – 1948 film
  • Michael Rennie – 1952 film
  • Jean Gabin – 1958 film
  • Gastone Moschin – 1964 mini-series
  • Frank Finlay – 1967 mini-series
  • Georges Géret – 1972 mini-series
  • Sergio Bustamante – 1973 series
  • Richard Jordan – 1978 film
  • Lino Ventura – 1982 film/1985 mini-series
  • Liam Neeson – 1998 film
  • Gérard Depardieu – 2000 mini-series
  • Masashi Sugawara - Shōjo Cosette anime 2007
  • Hugh Jackman – 2012 film

External LinksEdit


2012 FilmEdit


1998 FilmEdit

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