Russell Crowe as Javert in Les Miserables

Russell Crowe is Javert in Victor Hugo’s “Les Miserables.” A police inspector, he previously worked at a prison where Jean Valjean was serving a sentence at hard labor for stealing a loaf of bread. He becomes Valjean’s savior and tormentor.

Javert pursues Valjean relentlessly, determined to put him back in prison. He eventually arrives in Montreuil-sur-Mer, where he has been appointed police inspector.

He suspects that Monsieur Madeleine the town mayor and wealthy factory owner might, in fact, be Jean Valjean. The revelation comes after he watches Madeleine lift a heavy wagon off a man trapped underneath.

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He recalls that Valjean had similar strength, developed during all his years at hard labor in prison.

That sets the stage for his life-long pursuit of Valjean that eventually takes them both to Paris. In the scene where Crowe sings “”Javert Releases Prisoner 24601 On Parole,” he informs Valjean that he’s been paroled from prison after serving 19 years of a 20-year sentence.

Javert asks him if he knows the meaning of his parole. Valjean replies that he is finally free. But Javert informs him that he will forever be a marked man because of his crime and warns him to follow all laws. Valjean is bitter and resentful. All this over the theft of bread to feed his starving sister and her children.

Javert will only refer to Valjean as “Prisoner 24601.” He demands to be called by his name, but Javert refuses and warns Valjean not to forget his name. Javert later dedicates his life to imprisoning Valjean again.

Check out the clip below.