What do Argo, Zero Dark Thirty, Moonrise Kingdom, and Rust and Bone have in common? The seemingly tireless French composer Alexandre Desplat wrote the scores to all of them. No stranger to awards, with five Oscar nominations and six Golden Globes nominations in his career so far (he won a Globe for The Painted Veil in 2007), Desplat is one of the main contenders in this year’s Best Original Score race, with a Globe and Oscar nomination for his work on Argo.
Regardless of whether he’ll walk away with his second Golden Globe statue on Sunday, Desplat’s music made quite an impact on film in 2012. EW checked in with him to talk about some of his recent films. Click past the jump to see a featurette on the making of the Argo score, and to read about the bleakness of Zero Dark Thirty and why Wes Anderson drives him crazy (in a good way).
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Your score for Argo is the big awards contender this year. Can you tell us a little bit about how you approached the project?
ALEXANDRE DESPLAT: Argo was a very exciting project for me because I knew that I could mix together influences from my youth as a young musician and a young composer. I’ve always loved mixing Middle Eastern instruments into a classical orchestra. This was the first time I was able to personalize them. I mixed the orchestral sound and this incredible singer and the players that I brought from Turkey and France. All are masters of their instruments – they are living gods in their countries. I thank Ben for letting me put these musicians together.
What was the process like?
I brought them together to Los Angeles and we locked ourselves in a room and cut the records. We were in a studio for a week. I had to bring all the musicians into my own little world of music, teaching them the melodies and the rhythms that I wanted them to play. The music has very specific rhythms. I didn’t give them much freedom.
Do you have a favorite moment that you scored?
[In “Scent of Death”] when the plane carrying Ben’s character arrives in Iran, you hear this voice, the voice of Sussan Deyhim starting to do some kind of scatting - a rhythm motif. And then the whole Middle Eastern orchestra and symphonic orchestra takes over. And the other one, [“Cleared Iranian Airspace”] when they leave the Iranian airspace in the film, there’s no more Middle Eastern instruments. It’s just the classical orchestra.