Who are the Les Misérables characters?

Posted on 4 July 2024

It’s the longest-running musical in the West End, and it has almost as many actors on stage than its had years at the Sondheim Theatre! The epic tale of justice and redemption has wowed London audiences for four decades. At its heart, the Les Misérables characters are what makes it. To help you navigate the extensive name list, here is your definitive guide to the key players.

Who are the main Les Misérables characters?

There are a whopping 33 adult cast members in Les Mis. You need a cast that size for a revolution, but if we had to learn all those names within 180 minutes, we probably wouldn’t remember anything else. Luckily, we only have to think about eleven, with four driving the narrative.

Jean Valjean

Jean Valjean - also known as Prisoner 24601, Monsieur Madeleine and various other pseudonyms - is our main protagonist. The show opens with him labouring in a chain gang of prisoners. His crime? Stealing a loaf of bread. After serving 19 years, he is given parole and released. Marked as an ex-convict, he struggles to find work, housing and even food. A bishop offers him shelter and a meal. To repay his kindness, Valjean steals his silver. When captured, the bishop says the silver was gifted and insists Valjean uses it to become an honest man.

We jump forward to him running a successful factory. When one of his ex-workers dies, he is filled with guilt and adopts the orphaned daughter, striving to give her a good and peaceful life. While trying to become a good man, his past catches up with him in the form of a prison guard, Javert, who doesn’t want him to forget his past misdeeds.


Enraged by Jean Valjean’s release, Javert embarks on a lifelong mission to recapture Prisoner 24601. The most driven of the Les Misérables characters dedicates his life to tracking down the former inmate, spending almost 20 years in his quest. But why is Javert obsessed with Valjean? Javert is a lawful man. When Valjean breaks his parole, Javert desperately longs to bring him to justice. The elusiveness of the former prisoner fuels the desire to catch him and put him in his place. Along with pride, Javert is single-minded in his pursuit, which leads to a life of very little meaning.


The orphaned girl adopted by Valjean, Cosette, is a key character in the story and the subject of many Les Miserable songs. The fair and definitively good daughter of the ill-fated Fantine, she is Jean Valjean’s reason for being kind, the object of desire for Marius, and the source of envy for Eponine. 


The main love interest in the show and our gateway into the revolution, Marius falls for Cosette and must choose his love or his country in the show’s climax. Young, misguided and giddy with infatuation, he is the depiction of youth and bravery during troubled times.


Who are the supporting Les Misérables characters?

In addition to our main four, several other characters make a big impact on the tale despite having little stage time.

The Bishop of Digne

The kind and gentle Bishop offers shelter and sustenance to Jean Valjean, providing the ex-convict with the compassion he so desperately needs. By giving him an alibi and forgiveness, the virtuous actions of the holy man send Valjean on a path of decency and good intentions.


The beautiful Fantine works in Valjean’s factory and is hated by her co-workers. Once it's revealed she has a child, a fight breaks out where she is blamed and fired. The tragic and impoverished character is forced to turn to prostitution, resulting in her health declining. On her deathbed, Valjean promises to find and care for her daughter Cosette.

Thenardier and Madame Thenardier

Innkeepers and the custodians of Cosette. The unscrupulous pair treat the child like a servant while stealing from their patrons. After Cosette is taken away by Valjean, the couple turn to other sources of income. They become the heads of a gang of street thugs and con men in Paris.

Eponine Thenardier

When Cosette leaves, the innkeepers’ daughter Eponine is left with the chores and abuse. After years of maltreatment, she becomes a street waif who falls in love with Marius, further driving her ill-content towards Cosette.


Marius’s friend and the leader of the student revolutionaries is the impassioned Enjolras. The voice of the people and our guide to the Paris Uprising, Enjolras tried to entice the masses to the barricade only to realise his passion only reaches so far.


The beloved Gavroche is a streetwise urchin who pick-pockets his way to survival. The brave child joins the uprising and puts the fight into perspective.

Famous people who have played the Les Misérables characters

Since the show opened in 1985, it has been a star maker. The current West End Les Misérables cast boasts the likes of Luke Kempner and Milan Van Waardenburg, with many famous people treading the boards of the rotating stage throughout the years.

Some notable actors who have played Jean Valjean include Colm Wilkinson, Alfie Boe, Killian Donnelly, John Owen-Jones, Ramin Karimloo, and Stig Rossen.

Javert has also had many recognisable faces, including Michael Ball, Roger Allam, Norm Lewis, Hayden Tee, and David Thaxton.

The coveted role of Fantine has been played by Patti LuPone, Kerry Ellis, Carrie Hope Fletcher, Lucie Jones, Jenna Russell, Carley Stenson, and Rachelle Ann Go.

Samantha Barks, Nick Jonas, Gareth Gates, Gina Beck, Danielle Hope, and Jamie Muscato have played Les Misérables characters, too.

Want to hear the people sing? Get your tickets today!

You can see Les Misérables at the Sondheim Theatre in London right now. We can even help you pick the best seats in the Sondheim Theatre.