×

Composers Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans Collaborate Remotely on ‘Boy Erased’

Los Angeles-based Danny Bensi and New York-based Saunder Jurriaans collaborated long-distance on the score for “Boy Erased,” Joel Edgerton’s powerful examination of “gay conversion therapy” starring Lucas Hedges as the conflicted son of a Baptist minister.

“It was quite a struggle,” says Bensi, “the dramatic, emotional, societal aspects: how do we navigate through all this material with music, have it be interesting and dynamic but not get in the way?” Adds Jurriaans: “We wanted to avoid being too subversive. A big orchestral score can push you in certain directions.”

Most of their score is performed on piano and strings, with a brief addition of children’s choir. “We talked with Joel about having these elements of religious music,” says Jurriaans. “We tried to use the choir in an untraditional, more modern musical way, like [minimalists] Philip Glass or Steve Reich, with syncopated, rhythmic syllables. It’s a very subtle color that comes in and out.”

Cellist Bensi created many of the string parts in his own studio, and then recorded a larger string orchestra, layering all of the music together later during the mixing process. Among the most striking moments of the score are pitch-bending string sounds. “That’s one of Joel’s favorite melodic ideas,” says Bensi. “Those bendy violins are Beethovian chords, quite dark, emotive, introspective music. It was a theatrical musical technique to create a kind of dizzying, disoriented effect.”

The composers, who are better known for their music for TV’s “Ozark,” “Fear the Walking Dead” and “American Gods,” work on each other’s cues in “the cloud. We liken it to being a sculptor,” says Jurriaans. “We each chip away at it and we’re both trying to get to this core shape.”

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Ming-Na Wen poses at the Disney

    Original 'Mulan' Star Ming-Na Wen Weighs in on Remake's Controversy

    Ming-Na Wen, who played the leading voice role in the original 1998 version of “Mulan,” has spoken out about the recent controversy surrounding Disney’s forthcoming live-action remake, which has been co-opted by China’s authoritarian regime to attack Hong Kong protestors. “We are living in a world right now where there’s so much change and confusion [...]

  • Jon Favreau'The Lion King' film premiere,

    Jon Favreau 'Holding Out Hope' for Spider-Man to Remain in the MCU

    Spider-Man’s potential exit from the Marvel Cinematic Universe could throw a wrench in Happy and Aunt May’s relationship, but Jon Favreau is “optimistic” the love affair will continue amid Sony’s dispute with Disney. “You never know what’s going to happen. I’m holding out hope and being optimistic that this isn’t the final chapter of the [...]

  • Cara Delevingne'Carnival Row' TV show premiere,

    Cara Delevingne Talks Immigration, Taylor Swift's Battle With Scooter Braun

    Cara Delevingne, whose faerie character in “Carnival Row” finds herself washed ashore as a refugee in a foreign land, said she was immediately drawn by the show’s fantastical take on issues of immigration and assimilation. “It’s a cause that I have been involved in for a long time,” Delevingne told Variety at the premiere of [...]

  • John Travolta, Fred Durst. John Travolta,

    John Travolta Recalls Fans Breaking Into His House: 'I Was Scared the First Time'

    Nobody can accuse John Travolta of not being gracious to his fans, whether it’s an autograph, a selfie or, you know, a home invasion or two. “I’ve only had two people that actually invaded my house,” Travolta told Variety at the premiere of “The Fanatic” at the Egyptian Theater on Thursday night. “They were just [...]

  • Romulus TV Show Italy

    Behind the Italian Scenes on Upcoming TV Blockbuster 'Romulus'

    On a hilly patch of greenery outside Rome, a group of extras is milling about in a meticulously reconstructed eighth century B.C. village wearing leather sandals, coarse red tunics and baseball caps. It’s scorching. The set is on a vast backlot on the grounds of the Cinecittà World theme park where during a period of [...]

  • James Wan's Horror Pic Adds George

    James Wan Finds Male Lead for His Next Horror Movie (EXCLUSIVE)

    British actor George Young has landed the male lead role opposite Annabelle Wallis in James Wan’s top secret horror pic, sources tell Variety. Wan is tackling the movie, tentatively titled “Silvercup,” this fall before beginning preparations for DC’s “Aquaman” sequel with Jason Momoa at the top of 2020. Plot details are currently being kept under [...]

  • Catch-22 Cinecitta BTS

    Rome's Cinecitta Makes Major Upgrades to Soundstages, Backlot

    Italy has always been attractive as a location, and now that increased global TV and film production is filling up soundstages around Europe, Rome’s Cinecittà is gunning to regain its global status as a top studio. The fabled facility, located on 99 acres of public land, had lost some of the luster of its 1950s [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content