Video Interviews

Joker and A Haunting in Venice Composer Hildur Guðnadóttir Reflects on Her Career

The accomplished Oscar-winner looks back at her work on films like Prisoners and Tar, as well as acclaimed TV series like Chernobyl.

by | September 14, 2023 | Comments


Oscar-winning cellist and composer Hildur Guðnadóttir reflects on her career, looking back on Joker, Chernobyl, and Tar, as well as her work on A Haunting in Venice. A Haunting in Venice is in theaters September 15. The cast and director share their stunt training experience, describe what it was like working with Marshawn Lynch, spill some cast secrets, and more. The sharp coming-of-age comedy — which is already Certified Fresh, by the way — centers on a pair of high school seniors who decide to start a fight club in order to stay out of trouble, help some classmates learn how to defend themselves, and maybe even get closer to their crushes. Sennott, Seligman, and Edibiri sat down with us and asked each other questions about the experience of making the film.

Rotten Tomatoes: What was it like working on Todd Philipps’ Joker?

Hildur Guðnadóttir: Well, it was so beautiful to see this come together, because when I started working on Joker, I got the script and I wrote a lot of music just based on my feelings of the script and the tonality and the sense of musicality that I was feeling internally. Interestingly, when I was writing this music, I had the sense of movement. Obviously the cello was my instrument, so there’s a lot of hand gestures that I was doing. There was a lot of this kind of upper body sensations that I was feeling in the music, but I had never said anything about that to Todd. And there was nothing in the script that indicated any sort of dancing or any sort of movement. And in this scene in particular, it was really just like not much was happening in the script. In this scene, [Joaquin Phoenix] runs into this bathroom and throws away his gun and looks in the mirror and says, “Oh s—,” or something like this.

That was the scope of the scene in the script. It was really not a big plot point or a big moment. And somehow, as they were starting to shoot the scene, Joaquin, he just wasn’t really feeling it or something. He was having a bit of a hard time just getting into it, and they had already been listening to this music that I composed for the film. And Todd puts on this track and he says, “Well, maybe you just listen to the music and see how it inspires you.”

And then the scene just appears in connection to the music, and he starts this dance and these movements, which were so similar to what I was experiencing when I was recording the music, and it was just so beautiful to see how it all unfolded. And it’s just this impromptu situation. And then the cinematographer starts following the movements, and it becomes this kind of beautiful fluid scene.

And then what Todd sent it over to me. I just couldn’t believe that this was what I was seeing, because it was so similar to what I had experienced. So I feel like it was just such a beautiful moment of the elements of filmmaking coming together. The director, he just was so open to us bringing what we had to the table, and he was so willing to let us do our thing. And then he just lets this unfold. And I think it’s really… It was a beautiful, beautiful moment, I think.

Watch the video for the full interview with Hildur Guðnadóttir.

A Haunting in Venice (2023) is in theaters on September 15, 2023.

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