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In their own words

Sonnenfeld, Hackford talk about working with Elfman


Danny Elfman scored “Men in Black” (1997) and “Men in Black 2” (’02) for Sonnenfeld. While “MIB” highlighted a reeling, comical, sci-fi sound, “MIB2” was a throwback to ’60s swinging lounge music.

Environmental mood
“In Danny’s composing room he has these Mexican figurines of death, skeletons and ashtrays with skeletons painted on them. I think there was also a stuffed cat. His room was fairly cluttered, filled with computers and TV monitors and a couch; however, I would sit next to him at his console. We would always work together late at night (11:30 p.m.), and it was always raining when I went to his place, making me miss the turn to his place two or three times. I’m afraid of ghosts and supernatural things, so getting to his house was an emotional challenge.”

“Men in Black”
“I wanted a certain kind of sound that was big and specific for ‘Men in Black.’ Danny would play a temp score and he’d synch it against the image. I would listen and make small suggestions like, ‘Don’t put a button on the cue’ or ‘Make it more manly.’ I spoke in shorthand. I would occasionally say, ‘Can we not help the comedy?’ I didn’t want the score to be a comedy score. … At Danny’s, I would have a cup of coffee, be lost for several hours in the music, then leave thrilled and delighted, fearing once again the walk to my car.”


Danny Elfman scored two films for Hackford, 1995’s “Dolores Claiborne” and 2000’s “Proof of Life.”

“Dolores Claiborne”
“When I came to work with Danny, he was known for his more whimsical scores such as ‘Batman’ and ‘Pee-wee’s Big Adventure.’ For ‘Dolores,’ I was listening to an Estonian composer, Arvo Part. So I had this vision in mind for the film, since we were shooting in Nova Scotia with ever-changing skies. It was Richard Kraft, Danny’s manager, who brought to my attention that Danny had cut his teeth on Russian composers like Prokofiev and Tchaikovsky. … Kathy Bates portrayed Dolores as a person who has a rough exterior, but there’s a lot of pain and depth inside. Danny’s score provided an emotional context. … I went to his house and he had composed the score on computer … but when he plays with the computer, the arrangements are complete; you can hear the woodwinds, strings, horns and percussion. I was blown away.

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