You may know Bear McCreary‘s work from shows like The Walking Dead or the vastly underrated Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., movies like 10 Cloverfield Lane and Godzilla: King of the Monsters, and even video games like God of War: Rägnarok, but his work on Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power may be his best score yet.
Speaking via Awards Radar on Zoom during a virtual press day, McCreary expressed how he felt when he got the call to be the composer for the show, stating that “there was a little terror in there. But it really was excitement and the opportunity to tell a part of J.R.R. Tolkien‘s Second Age with themes and use the skill set I’ve crafted over my entire life. I was thrilled.”
In following up on Peter Jackson‘s The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies, McCreary admitted that he quickly jumped into the show that he “didn’t stop and think about the pressures of stepping into a live-action adaptation to follow the greatest live-action adaptation ever put to the cinema. It was really only after the show came out, and everybody started asking me that question, that it occurred to me that “Oh yeah, I guess that that really could have been terrifying.”
If I thought about it that way, I wouldn’t even get out of bed in the morning. I would have just pulled the covers and huddled in the fetal position. How do you write music if you say to yourself, “Well, you got to wake up today and write a theme for Nori Brandyfoot [Markella Kavenagh] that everyone will compare to The Shire theme. Good luck with that!” I couldn’t do that. And I didn’t do that. I wanted to write this story that I’m excited about, and I will write something that tells me about this character, Nori while drawing from influences that make sense. They would partly make sense because of what Howard Shore did [with Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings], and that was a blessing.”
During our video conversation, we also discussed balancing out scoring massive action setpieces whilst keeping the focus on the characters and what the process went into composing distinct themes from each world and creating their own musical language through specific instruments. You will not be disappointed if you’re a fan of the score.
You can check out the full interview below and see all episodes of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power on Prime Video:
[Some of the quotes in this article have been edited for length and clarity]