As Aaron Sorkin has shifted into becoming a writer-director rather than just a screenwriter, one thing has remained consistent across his three projects as a filmmaker thus far: a musical score by Oscar nominee Daniel Pemberton.
“Just watching him progress as a director, every film, is spectacular,” Pemberton tells Gold Derby in the “Meet the Experts” composers panel. “What I love about him as a collaborator is he trusts you and he wants your input on things. We always have pushback from both of us — we pushback on scenes in trying to get things the best they can be in the movie. It’s always a pleasurable experience working with him.”
Pemberton and Sorkin came into each others’ orbit on “Steve Jobs,” which Sorkin wrote and Danny Boyle directed with Pemberton acting as the composer. After sitting together at the Golden Globes that next year, Sorkin drafted Pemberton to write the score for his directorial debut, “Molly’s Game,” and then tapped Pemberton for his follow-up feature, “The Trial of the Chicago 7.” That film gave the prolific Pemberton his first Oscar nomination, in the Best Original Song category. Just a year later, they’re back together again for “Being the Ricardos,” Sorkin’s quick-witted take on the backstage machinations of “I Love Lucy” during one tumultuous week in 1952.
“I read the script and whenever you read a Sorkin script, the first thing you go is, aw, sh–, where do I fit in? Because it’s so amazing and there’s so much in there, you don’t always find the space straight away where you can turn up as the composer,” Pemberton says. The filmmaker and composer decided jointly that “Being the Ricardos” should have a “classic golden age orchestral score” to heighten the drama.
“My take on it was — for me, I’m British. ‘I Love Lucy’ is not part of my cultural makeup as it is for most of America. That was a very interesting challenge for this project,” Pemberton says. “Trying to look through the eyes as an outsider which in some ways feels like a defining aspect of the American cultural psyche. I felt this film needed a classic strong thematic approach. It needed a big theme that work through the film and worked through the end. The first challenge was like how do I write a theme that can sum up this entire story?”
Pemberton answered that question for himself (and he even played the main theme for us during the interview). But one thing he declined to use for the musical score was the iconic “I Love Lucy” show music — arguably one of the most famous ever recorded.
“We talked about it early on and we thought the best thing to do was ignore that,” he says, noting the “I Love Lucy” music does show up in the film in the context of the show but not the movie score. “I wanted to create something separate from the show. We’re telling a different story. One thing Aaron was very adamant about is in those classic scenes that are so iconic, we’re not scoring those for laughs, we’re scoring them to understand why those scenes became funny.”
“Being the Ricardos” is out on December 10 before it debuts on Amazon Prime starting December 21.
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