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Tom Hooper finished Les Miserables day before first screening

Dec 06, 2012 | 9:15am EST

The Oscar winner spent 18 months working on the musical movie adaptation, starring Russell Crowe and Hugh Jackman, and he wasn't done with the exhausting project until Thanksgiving morning (22Nov12).

He rushed to New York City's Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center the next day (23Nov12) to screen the picture for the first time - and he was delighted it was so well-received by the media, cast, and crew.

He tells New York Magazine, "The scene where Hugh Jackman storms out of the church and tears up his passport, throwing it to the winds, that got applause 10 minutes into the film. And then there was applause 12 to 14 more times during the film, which I've never experienced.

"With The King's Speech, people would clap once he (Colin Firth) successfully made the big speech at the end, and I remember thinking, 'Wow, how surreal.' So this was just insane."

And Hooper admits one of the best parts was receiving such kind praise from Gladiator star Crowe: "He was so warm about it and so happy. He kept saying, 'It's so epic, Tom,' and I was thinking, 'Bloody hell, Russell, you've done some epic films in your life!' So for Russell to say it was really epic, I felt very pleased about."

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