Cyrano star on why Roxanne needed to be “distinctive” from previous versions

Haley Bennett stars in the new adaptation of the classic French play.

Haley Bennett Roxanne excl

Joe Wright’s new version of Cyrano De Bergerac is different from previous adaptations in a number of ways.

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For one thing, Cyrano is a musical, with songs written by the acclaimed band The National, while the title character’s traditional big nose has also been dispensed with.

But another alteration from the source material concerns the character of Roxanne, who has been subtly changed throughout the film.

This is something that was very important to star Haley Bennett, who revealed that she wanted to be sure she “was very distinctive from past Roxannes”.

“I mean, a lot of it was just based on instinct,” she told RadioTimes.com in an exclusive interview. “With every character, there are different aspects of myself within the character, I felt that Roxanne had this deep longing for creative expression, and she shared that with Cyrano, and that’s what makes their relationship so unique.

“And our Roxanne was written by a woman, not a man in the 1800s. So that was really exciting and refreshing. And it was so profound to work with a woman on this role from the get-go. I think Roxanne has a really rebellious spirit and I didn’t want her to feel too demure or idealistic unless it was on purpose, like she is with De Guiche, so I think it was interesting to be able to kind of play those two sides or maybe three sides of her character.”

Fleshing out Roxanne was something that was equally important to writer Erica Schmidt, who explained that she has always “adored” Roxanne but had some minor reservations about the way she was depicted in previous versions.

“I love that she loves words and loves poetry,” she explained. “But in the original Rostand play, sometimes I find her kind of unknowable or stiff, you know – the man says he loves her, and she says, ‘Can’t you do better?’

“And I just wondered where her agency was, and what it was that she would feel and say when she learned that she’d been deceived by the men that she loves, these men that she loved for her whole life.”

You might think that playing a character who has previously been inhabited by so many different actors would be extra challenging, but Bennett revealed that in fact, the opposite was true.

“I guess it’s quite comforting,” she said. “I think knowing that it’s a film that is so beloved, and the story is so strong and so relatable and timeless and universal, I think that it’s really comforting and hopefully we were able to follow in the footsteps of the incredible artists who’ve who paved the way for us.”

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Cyrano is released in UK cinemas on Friday 14th January 2022. Looking for something to watch? Visit our Film hub for more news, interviews and features, or check out our TV Guide to see what’s on tonight.