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Cyrano Director Joe Wright Had To Pull Off A ‘Crafty Little Trick’ To Prevent The Movie’s Best Scene From Being Cut

Peter Dinklage as Cryano de Bergerac in Cyrano
(Image credit: United Artists)

There is not a single number on the soundtrack of Joe Wright’s Cyrano that isn’t stellar, but the war-set “Wherever I Fall” is something special. Sung by a trio of unnamed soldiers – played by Glen Hansard, Sam Amidon, and Scott Folan – the song’s verses are structured as letters written to loved ones before what has been determined to be a suicidal charge on the battlefield, and it’s both beautiful and emotionally devastating. Despite the fact that it doesn’t feature any of the movie’s principal stars, it’s the best scene in the film… which is why it was pretty shocking to learn that it was almost cut from the production schedule.

Fortunately, Joe Wright recognized the impact of “Wherever I Fall” and refused to let it be excised from his movie – employing his skills as a director to ensure that the sequence became essential to the production.

I learned this amazing bit of trivia last week when I had the pleasure of interviewing the filmmaker and Cyrano star Kelvin Harrison Jr. during the movie’s virtual press day. Having been floored by the song in the movie, I asked both men separately what it was like to shoot it, and they explained how it had nearly not made it to the editing room, let alone the proverbial editing room floor. Wright explained,

We were up Mount Etna shooting this movie… We had started working at 16,000 feet, and then snow fell and meant we couldn't access our set. So we had to move down to 8,000 feet, and we lost a lot of time in that move, and so the schedule became compromised. People, everyone, was looking for cuts, and as that song doesn't include any of our principle characters, it seemed to some like an obvious candidate. But I felt that the song was really the emotional backbone of the movie.

Some say that any creative must kill their darlings, but “Wherever I Fall” was one that Joe Wright wouldn’t let be murdered. The song was originally written as a part of the stage musical on which the new film is based (hence why no Oscar nomination), with music by Bryce and Aaron Dessner, and lyrics by Matt Beringer and Carin Besser, and the director would not let it be skipped over in his adaptation.

So what did the filmmaker do? He made it impossible for the scene to be removed by altering his plans for shooting it. He blended together an establishing shot with the performance of the song, and the way it was constructed meant that it became essential in the editing. In Joe Wright’s words,

I determined that it should definitely stay and designed the shots in such a way that I covered it as part of the master shot, the wide shot, that slowly pulled back through the guys in the end to reveal Cyrano and Christian – and thereby making it impossible to cut. And I had to do the close ups of the guys. And so it was a crafty little trick of mine.

While the scene is a special thing to witness as part of the cinematic experience of Cyrano, you can listen to the heartbreaking song “Wherever I Fall” below:

Joe Wright’s move to save the sequence not only benefitted the film as a whole, but also impressed his collaborators. As I had spoken to him earlier in the day, Kelvin Harrison Jr. was actually the first person to tell me about the director’s “crafty little trick,” and he expressed awe at Wright’s inspiration and execution:

Joe was kind of... Joe was brilliant, and not even kind of, just brilliant. He was like, 'If I do a establishing shot with the soldiers, singing the song into the scene with the two main actors, then they can't cut the song.' And so that kind of kept the song in there, but that was always our favorite number.

Continuing, the actor reflected on what it was like when the song was first performed during the Cyrano cast’s script read through, and what he remembers is emotional devastation:

When we did the read through, I remember we were all balling. The studio was there, the producers were there, everyone from Sicily was there, and we were just like sobbing. Glen Hansard and Sam Amidon and, oh my God, Scott [Folan], all of them just crushed.

Audiences everywhere will be able to experience the power of “Wherever I Fall” themselves this week, as Cyrano – starring Peter Dinklage, Haley Bennett, and Ben Mendelsohn along with Kelvin Harrison Jr. – will be arriving in theaters everywhere this Friday, February 25. Do yourself a favor and purchase a ticket, and do yourself another favor by bringing along a travel pack of tissues.

To discover all of the films that are set to be released between now and the end of December, check out our 2022 Movie Release Calendar.

NJ native who calls LA home; lives in a Dreamatorium. A decade-plus CinemaBlend veteran; endlessly enthusiastic about the career he’s dreamt of since seventh grade.