The Film That Lit My Fuse is a Deadline video series that aims to provide an antidote to headlines about industry uncertainty by swinging the conversation back to the creative ambitions, formative influences and inspirations of some of today’s great screen artists.
Every installment asks the same five questions. Today’s subject is Joe Wright, the director of tastemaker films who just opened Cyrano, adapted by Erica Schmidt from her 2018 stage play, which was adapted from the 1897 Edmond Rostand play and starring Peter Dinklage, Haley Bennett, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Bashir Salahuddin, and Ben Mendelsohn. Born and raised in England, Wright as a youth made movies with a Super 8 camera and worked in the Little Angel Theatre in Islington, which was owned by his parents. Wright began directing short films and videos, and made a quick breakthrough with the 2005 film Pride & Prejudice with Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen, which drew four Oscar noms and six BAFTA noms, with Wright winning most promising newcomer. He followed with Atonement, which starred Knightley, James McAvoy and Saoirse Roman, and which scored seven Oscar noms and 14 BAFTA noms, winning two of the latter. His subsequent films included the Jamie Foxx-Robert Downey Jr-starrer The Soloist, Hanna with Ronan as a pint-sized assassin, Anna Karenina, the Peter Pan prequel Pan with Hugh Jackman, and Darkest Hour, which won the Best Actor Oscar for Gary Oldman and his portrayal of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and his firm decision not to appease Adolph Hitler and the Nazis.
Watch Wright discuss how the raw power of Martin Scorsese’s The Taxi Driver and other great films forged his path toward becoming a filmmaker.