The duo met doing music videos together and went on to work on six movies, starting with 2007’s Atonement, on which McGarvey received an Oscar nom for his cinematography, 2012’s Anna Karenina (notching another DP Oscar nom) as well as 2015’s Pan, 2017’s The Darkest Hour and now Cyrano.
We talk with Wright how he was drawn to making a feature take of the stage musical; Haley Bennett being a force behind the scenes after playing Roxanne onstage, as well as the filmmaker and McGarvey’s shorthand. Their journey took them to Sicily. And though the town, Noto, had wonderful cannolis and a Baroque backdrop ripe for the 1897 Edmond Rostand play, the Italian isle also provided a great location in its volcano Mount Etna — which decided to erupt during the shoot.
Another daring challenge here on Cyrano was having the actors perform their songs live on camera, rather than pre-recorded, a technique that Tom Hooper also used on Les Miserables.
“The reason for doing it, is that it’s about human connection and about intimacy and it’s about fear of intimacy,” explains Wright, “So, I wanted this sense of intimacy throughout with the sound and the picture. The best way to achieve that intimacy was through live recording, so every volt, breath and crack in the breath is captured live and has an immediacy,” says the filmmaker.
“We wanted to create a fantasy of a period and a place,” explains Wright on Crew Call, “It’s not a period movie, it’s a fantasy of a period.”
Cyrano opens on Jan. 28. The movie was nominated for Best Picture – Comedy/Musical and Peter Dinklage for Actor Comedy/Musical by the Golden Globes with the actor also receiving a Best Actor nom from the Critics’ Choice Awards.
Here’s our conversation with Wright and McGarvey:
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