Ludwig Göransson has already taken home an Oscar, an Emmy, and a Grammy for his incredible cinematic orchestrations, and he’s just getting started. On the premiere episode of our Awards Tour Podcast, host Jacqueline Coley sits down with the virtuosic composer to discuss his filmography and inspirations, from his humble days back in Sweden to Hollywood’s biggest productions. Shot in-person at his studio in LA, the conversation chronicles Göransson’s award-winning compositions for the Disney+ Star Wars series The Mandalorian and Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther, his chart-topping work with the likes of Adele and Rihanna, and his latest effort reteaming with famed director Christopher Nolan for Oppenheimer.
Jacqueline Coley for Rotten Tomatoes: For Christopher Nolan to be on an executive produced track with you, it really says something about both your producer ability and your scoring ability. I want to talk about that, specifically, because not every director chooses to be that intricately involved in the scoring process from every aspect. Why do you think that is something that both you and Christopher Nolan can do so well now in your second iteration, this idea of him being not just the director of the feature but intricately involved in how you guys make the album?
Ludwig Göransson: I think if you’ve seen any Chris Nolan movies, you know how important music is in his films. It’s almost like its own character, and you understand immediately what an ear he has for music and how much time you actually have to put in music to be able to put that in your films. And he’s extremely engaged in the music process from beginning to end and also the way that he works with the composer.
When we get started, it’s way early; it’s way before we start shooting the film. I’m one of the first people to get to read the script. Right after the script, I sit down with him, and we have a conversation. We talk about what kind of music he’s hearing or thinking, and then we start building the sound in the music world together, and it’s a very, very, very close process. We sit down, we meet up in person once a week for about three months, and I write five minutes of music every week, and we sit down, listen to it, talk about it, and go through each composition in a very detailed way, and talk about specific sounds. We talk about melodies, we talk about the structure of the composition, and then we pick and choose and create our own map of music and sounds.
So when he starts shooting, he has about two or three hours of music ready to listen to. And then I think he also probably hears the music while he’s sometimes shooting. Sometimes I also get a call from set, and he’s like, “Yeah, I’m thinking about this cue we’re working on. Would you mind changing the end to make it more upbeat or in a more deflated way?” So we constantly work on music until we start actually working with the picture.
RT: Does he share it with the actors? Because there are a few scenes where I would feel the cues of the music are really the stage direction that the actor is working with.
Göransson: I think it’s mostly just me and Chris, but I also know Emma Thomas is listening to the music, and Jennifer Lame, the editor, hears the music early on, too. When they’re finished doing the film, Jennifer Lame and Chris start cutting the movie together, and so they already have two or three hours of music to start picking and choosing from. So when we have our first cut, all of the music in the first cut is our original score for the film.
Watch the video for the full interview with Ludwig Göransson.
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