In the romantic drama The Words, young writer Rory Jansen (played by Bradley Cooper) finally achieves his long sought-after literary success after publishing the next great American novel. There's only one catch - he didn't write it. We are quite sure that Emmy-nominated ASCAP composer Marcelo Zarvos did in fact write the film's luminous score. We asked him what it was like putting The Words to music.
What it was like working with directors Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal? Did the fact that they were first-time directors impact the creative process for the score?
It was a wonderful creative experience. I am fairly used to working with first-time directors and both Lee and Brian are incredibly articulate. What was unusual was not the fact they were first-time directors, but rather that there were two of them. That was a first I think. But as I said, they were very good at communicating their ideas, usually agreed with each other and were very good at presenting a united front, so I had a clear direction to follow.
What interesting challenges did the score to The Words present, and how did you address them?
Probably the most interesting challenge was the structure. For those who have not seen it, the film is set up like Russian dolls, with a story within a story within a story. Although we spend the least amount of time in Dennis Quaid's character's story, I feel that that is where all the points of view come from. He plays the novelist who writes a book about a writer who finds a manuscript that takes place in 1945 Paris. At first we talked about having different themes for each time period, but quickly abandoned the idea for a more unified approach where all stories are interconnected musically and themes are developed and used throughout.
How did you develop the sound palette for the score?
We knew the sound on this one was going to be orchestral and fairly traditional in its instrumentation. The portion of the movie that took place in post-war Paris dictated the overall sound. It really needed a lush, romantic sound, and since we wanted all the different stories to be connected musically, that gave us our answer.
Did the film's theme of "borrowing" someone else's work inspire any of the musical material you wrote?
Although the idea of borrowing is if course important to the film, even more important was the idea that Rory (Bradley Cooper) sees something so deep and profound in the manuscript he finds that he realizes he will never reach those heights. And then of course the Faustian bargain that follows is incredibly important. But both Lee and Brian really stressed the fact that the climax is that realization. To paraphrase their description, that is the moment he becomes a Man and learns to accept what he will never be.
The Words hit theaters nationwide on September 7th, 2012. Visit www.thewordsmovie.com for more info.
Find out more about Marcelo Zarvos at www.zarvos.com.