Russell Crowe, Hugh Jackman

Dario Cantatore/Getty Images; JGM,

Russell Crowe will be hot on Hugh Jackman's trail next year.

The Australian Oscar winner has signed on to play Inspector Javert opposite Jackman's Jean Valjean in the latest big-screen version of Les Misérables, this one an adaptation of the smash-hit Broadway musical featuring composer Claude-Michel Schoenberg's original score

So, Crowe's going to be singing. On his own!

Sure, the Gladiator star indulged his rock 'n' roll chops as a member of 30 Odd Foot of Grunts and, more recently, Russell Crowe & the Ordinary Fear of God. But does he have what it takes to give oomph to a big Broadway ballad?

Well, the film has attracted serious talent—Jackman is a Tony-winning musical-theater veteran and director Tom Hooper just won an Oscar for The King's Speech—so it's probable that the producers know something we don't. (Besides, if Gerard Butler could do it...)

"Even though I have dreamt about making the film of Les Misérables for over 25 years, I could never have imagined that we would end up with the dream director Tom Hooper, and the dream cast of Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe as the two great protagonists Jean Valjean and Javert," said original Les Mis producer Cameron Mackintosh. "Not only were they born to play these roles vocally, but they thrillingly inhabit this great score."

Universal has set a release date of Dec. 7, 2012, for the big-budget epic.

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