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Interview: Composer Nathan Johnson Discusses the Sounds of ‘Nightmare Alley’

Searchlight Pictures

Nathan Johnson is a composer who deserves more credit in the industry. Of course, he got his start working with a family member, one Rian Johnson, on Brick, The Brothers Bloom, and Looper, but his work extends beyond. In addition to doing Knives Out with his relative, he’s also done the music for Don Jon, Kill the Messenger, and even video games. Now, he’s done his highest profile score to date with Guillermo del Toro‘s Nightmare Alley. Johnson’s compositions are excellent, and I’ve long wanted him to get more films under his belt, so that was always a highlight of this project for me, once he was announced. So, getting the chance to talk to him about the movie last year was an absolute treat.

Below, you can hear my conversation with Johnson. We spoke right after I saw the flick at its big premiere, so it was all fairly fresh in my head. Unfortunately, the recent Academy shortlists that were released excluded his score from Oscar contention, and that’s a shame. The technical aspects of the film are impeccable, including the music. We talk about Nightmare Alley for sure, but I just wanted to pick a talent musician’s brain. That’s what is coming your way next…

This is some of what I said about Nightmare Alley in my review:

Co-writer/director Guillermo del Toro, along with co-writer Kim Morgan, crafts a new take on Nightmare Alley. Given the story they’re telling, the project does come off as bloated feeling. The script is fine, and del Toro’s direction is impeccable, but the pacing is rough. Now, you feel every bit of the two and a half hour running time, though it’s never boring, which is an unusual issue. Luckily, cinematographer Dan Laustsen and composer Nathan Johnson are doing great work, so the tech aspects are wonderful as well.

Searchlight Pictures

Here now is my interview with Nightmare Alley composer Nathan Johnson. Enjoy:

Nightmare Alley is in theaters now!


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[…] Interview: Composer Nathan Johnson Discusses the Sounds of ‘Nightmare Alley’ […]



Written by Joey Magidson

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