Andy Serkis And Cynthia Erivo Break Down The Piccadilly Circus Stunt In Luther: The Fallen Sun

Warning: Spoilers for Luther: The Fallen Sun are in play. If you haven't taken this latest case yet, you've been warned.

Making the leap from TV to film can be a huge undertaking, as expanding the scope and action of a series can lead to bigger and better things. the Idris Elba-fronted 2023 new movie release Luther: The Fallen Sun doing just that, as the opportunity arose for series creator Neil Cross and director Jamie Payne to pull off a show- stopping set piece that made great use of a London landmark. Said sequence included stars Andy Serkis and Cynthia Erivo, who broke down the challenges that came with it. 

The final product was an amazingly dark spectacle, which Cross and Payne broke down in great detail. Coupled with the commentary from Cynthia Erivo and Andy Serkis, the genesis and execution of this huge moment can be appreciated by Luther fans, as well as people that just enjoy impressive action. 

Cynthia Erivo aims her gun in an attempt to make an arrest in Piccadilly Circus in Luther: The Fallen Sun.

(Image credit: Netflix)

Cynthia Erivo Lived Out Her Action Star Fantasy On Luther: The Fallen Sun

I had the pleasure of speaking with all parties mentioned during the press days that Netflix held for Luther: The Fallen Sun. Unsurprisingly, one scene became a thread during my conversations with the film's talent, and said moment takes place in London’s famed Piccadilly Circus. As John Luther (Idris Elba) has broken out of prison to pursue serial killer/digital nightmare David Robey (Andy Serkis), the disgraced detective tracks his quarry to the landmark location.

What ensues afterwards is an absolute nightmare, as Robey’s latest batch of victims have been coerced into committing suicide by jumping off of the roofs surrounding PIccadilly. The chaos that precedes and follows those deaths sees DCI Odette Raine (Cynthia Erivo) rushing to make the scene, as both Luther and Robey are wanted men. It was that part of filming this big Luther scene that excited Erivo, as she confessed that it was a dream come true for the following reasons: 

I kind of knew that there would be grit. I knew it would be dark, gritty, and sort of messy in ways. But I don’t know that I expected how expansive some of this could be. I didn’t realize just how much space we’d be taking up. You know we have that chase, we took over Piccadilly Circus, and I can’t tell you how massive that was. I think my mind was blown just by doing it. So me running the street in Piccadilly Circus, like the kid in me was jumping up and down like, ‘This is SO cool!’ I think for those days I was absolutely wired, just because being able to do all of that action movie stuff is just the stuff of my dreams. I’ve always wanted to do that. So being able to do this for this character was just really fun.

While commenting on the insanity that helped shape Luther: The Fallen Sun’s amazingly dark spectacle, director Jamie Payne also had a huge amount of praise to provide. Highlighting Cynthia Erivo’s dedication to getting this scene right, Payne showed just how wired his actor was when telling his side of the experience: 

It is the centerpiece of the film, and obviously the story changes massively after it. It was also incredible to have one of the most familiar landmarks to me, as an Englishman, as a playground for three nights, and everybody was all in. Now Cynthia Erivo, those running scenes that we did, they were the latest part of it, because we shot in different parts. We could only control different parts, and just…the things that we couldn’t control. Her running down the street was done at four o’clock in the morning. Now I did five takes of that, she was ready and reset before we could even get into position after ‘cut.’ And I tell you, for the police running behind her, hoo hoo, she became a hell of a gunner. That speed and that dedication, and that pace, she did on every single take. I think Tom Cruise needs to talk to her about how to run in movies.

While we’ll next be seeing her in the two-part film adaptation for Wicked, a project that Erivo is already happily hyping to the world, we shouldn't rule out an action star future for the acclaimed actor. Also, if Tom Cruise needs a new member on his Mission: Impossible team, the story above should land Cynthia Erivo a spot without much of an audition. The same could be said for Luther: The Fallen Sun’s villain, who''s played by Andy Serkis, as he got to display some insane knife work in this tense standoff.

Andy Serkis gleefully holds a man at knifepoint in Piccadilly Circus in Luther: The Fallen Sun.

(Image credit: Netflix)

The Fighting Tactics Andy Serkis And The Stunt Team Worked Out For His Character

While DCI Raine and her forces are storming towards Piccadilly Circus, a showdown between John Luther and killer David Robey takes place. Their first face-to-face meeting, Serkis’ character takes the opportunity to hold a random bystander hostage, showing his proficiency with a blade.

That touch was something the actor, known for roles in the Lord of the RIngs and The Batman franchises, helped inspire. Andy Serkis explained how that method of choice came to be, with special credit being paid to the stunt team on Luther: The Fallen Sun, as follows:

I had the best stunt team, I mean they were so great. We wanted to work out a way of Robey being a viable foe for John Luther. He’s got so much muscle and power, and he’s a kickboxer, you know, Idris is in real life too. So we wanted him to be deft, very skillful with minimal use of energy. Not big, big movements, but almost like a little picador in a bullfight that can come in and just jab, and poke, and slash, without you even realizing it.

Normally one might not think that the star would be able to put up much of a fight against Idris Elba, whether it’s a conflict in or out of the Luther universe. Just as he explained above, the performer's credibility as a threat was definitely enhanced by his quickness with a very lethal blade. In fact, towards the end of the sequence, an actual attack by David Robey’s blade slows down John Luther, when he attempts to rescue a SWAT officer who was on the other end of that blade. 

A sequence that feels like The Fallen Sun’s answer to some of the gigantic thrills seen in the best action films like Skyfall, the Piccadilly Circus sequence is a brutal thing to behold. Which makes its origins through the writing and production phase an even more intriguing tale to behold. 

Idris Elba stands in Piccadilly Circus with a panicked look in Luther: The Fallen Sun.

(Image credit: Netflix)

The Surprising Origins Of Luther: The Fallen Sun’s Piccadilly Circus Set Piece

CIrcling back to the phenomenon of expanding a television series’ scope for cinematic adaptations, Luther’s memorable movie moment came literally from out of nowhere. Series creator and writer Neil Cross admitted as much in our interview, which then led to director Jamie Payne hypothesizing the motives that inspired the pure terror seen on the screen. Here’s how that conversation went: 

Neil Cross: I’m afraid I’m going to disappoint you by saying I have absolutely no idea. I have no method, I have no technique, it just popped into my head (pops mouth) like that. But the execution, really the vision of that sequence, belongs entirely to Jamie.

Jamie Payne: That’s very generous, because I had the same thought when I read it. I was like, “What the?!’ It was extraordinary. And the good thing is often, and this is what the film allowed, Neil would have had a million versions of those over the last 13 years, in the television series. And when it gets to the director’s lap, it’s probably gone, for production reasons. But it was there when I read it. It was extraordinary, obviously a sequence like that has to be broken into a thousand parts. What the feature film process gave us that the TV series couldn’t is the time to break that down. It took considerable resources from every single department. It was an extraordinary moment in the story, and I’m thrilled that you found it engaging. Getting there was a science, let me tell you."

Going from vision to a thousand pieces and back doesn’t always translate the way you’d want in a project like this. However, the results can’t be argued with, thanks to Luther: The Fallen Sun’s Piccadilly Circus massacre impressing the cast as well as viewers. A chaotic moment that sees traffic and bystanders colliding in a rather abrupt fashion, it certainly accelerates the pace of what happens after, and to fantastic lengths.

With Idris Elba’s film now trending, there’s a chance that there could be more cinematic adventures with John Luther on the horizon. If so, the anticipation for how Neil Cross and all involved could top this feat of action-thriller filmmaking will absolutely be off the charts. You can get hyped about the future yourself by checking out the mayhem that is the Piccadilly Circus scene in Luther: The Fallen Sun, as that film is currently streaming for those with a Netflix subscription

Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.