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JUST a year ago, Isabelle Allen was playing a lame boy in her school production The Pied Piper of Hamelin. Little did she know where her latent stage talent was about to take her.
Today the 10-year-old stands on the brink of Hollywood stardom as she awaits the opening of the film version of Les Miserables, in which she stars.
Isabelle caught the eye of Jeremy James Taylor, founder of the National Youth Music Theatre, who has worked with her school, and who asked talent agents to let her audition.
She has now worked alongside Russell Crowe, Helena Bonham Carter, Hugh Jackman and Sacha Baron Cohen in the film of the world’s longest-running musical.
Isabelle’s parents, Elaine and Nigel, thought she might be picked as an extra. But her talent landed her the role of Cosette, the central child character, ahead of thousands of other hopefuls.
She also features as the poster girl for the film, with her flowing hair and piercing blue eyes creating a striking image.
Isabelle, of Eastbourne, East Sussex, said: “When I found out I had been picked, I was so excited. I was jumping up and down on my bed. But I was also a little scared and nervous, because I didn’t know what to expect.’
She needn’t have worried, however, as the seasoned actors, including X-Men star Jackman (pictured with Isabelle), made sure she was at ease on set.
The Australian actor, who has two adopted children, moved rocks away from the set so Isabelle would not step on them and made sure she was comfortable when not filming.
“He would joke about what my favourite cocktail was and I would say it was a water cocktail,” she said.
“He was very funny and would talk in these different voices. He tried to persuade the director to let me wear shoes while I was filming because it was cold, but we weren’t allowed to.
“He was very kind to me. All the famous people were so nice and really helpful. They made me feel relaxed.”
Academy Award winner Crowe was “friendly” but also “focused and serious”, Isabelle said.
And Amanda Seyfried, star of the Mama Mia! film, who plays Cosette as an older teenager, offered her plenty of words of encouragement while constantly knitting between takes.
The cast will be reunited on the red carpet for the film’s world premiere in Leicester Square next Wednesday and then five days later for a high-profile screening in New York.
After her success, the schoolgirl has landed the same role in the West End production of the musical. Offers for other films have also come in, including a Disney project she has to keep secret.
Despite the whirl of the last year, Isabelle’s normal life goes on at Moira House Girls School.
Mrs Allen said: “She’s still just the same Izzy. It’s been an incredible year and we’ll have to wait to see what happens next.” – Daily Mail