“The greatest singers aren’t necessarily opera singers, they just have soul,” Peter Dinklage told Stephen Colbert. And then he sang. Citing singular songsmiths like Bob Dylan and Nina Simone as such “soulful singers,” the former Game Of Thrones star was quick to deny he had any soul himself, but, performing the no-doubt show-stopping love song “Your Name” from the upcoming Cyrano, Dinklage sure gave an impressively assured and intense voice to his character’s famously unrequited love.
The film (set for a January premiere) sees Dinklage essaying the legendary role of Cyrano de Bergerac, a physically derided swordsman and soldier with the heart of a poet. Adapted from the stage play written by his wife, the writer and director Erica Schmidt, the Joe Wright-directed film version of Cyrano casts Dinklage as a differently “other” de Bergerac, wooing the lovely Roxanne (Swallow’s Haley Bennett) on behalf of his tongue-tied but strapping pal, Christian (Kelvin Harrison Jr. from The Trial Of The Chicago 7).
Talking musical theater with occasional Broadway crooner Colbert, Dinklage agreed that the fear of a non-professional singer is very real (“If you’re flat, you’re flat,” he commiserated), but that he’s lucky enough to be married to the writer-director. “Why do you think I married her?,” Dinklage noted knowingly in response to Colbert asking if scribe Schmidt is, in fact, Dinklage’s Cyrano. Explaining that he was in good hands with both Schmidt and The National’s Dessner brothers (Aaron and Bryce) taking on the task of turning Edmond Rostand’s poetry into singable verse, Dinklage told Colbert that, as actors, “We sound a lot smarter because of our writers.”
Taking the stage alongside the Dessners and some appropriately lush strings, Dinklage boomed out Cyrano’s lonely lament to his beloved Roxanne in a confident, inimitable baritone. And if we’re to take Dinklage at his word about not being imbued with the soul of a natural singer, his performance, recalling the likes of The Magnetic Fields’ Stephin Merritt or The National’s own Matt Berninger, yet gave credence to the idea that he can sure act the part. (Dinklage denied being a professional to Colbert, but there’s irrefutable proof out there that the actor once fronted a college punk band called Whizzy.) His performance should certainly be sufficient for the legions of Peter Dinklage fans already swooning at the thought of the actor’s lovelorn Cyrano singing his heart out.