Could David Arnold return as composer to the James Bond series?
It was the obvious question to pose while he was talking about Amazon’s new “Good Omens” miniseries, for which he has composed the elaborate score.
“It’s a no-news situation,” Arnold told Variety about 007. “I’ve heard nothing. But my pencil is always sharpened for him if James comes around again. But if he doesn’t, I’ll be as excited to watch the new film as anyone else. I still love him, and I love all of the team over there.”
Arnold composed the scores for five consecutive Bond films: three with Pierce Brosnan (“Tomorrow Never Dies,” “The World Is Not Enough,” “Die Another Day”) and two starring Daniel Craig (“Casino Royale,” “Quantum of Solace”).
With singer Chris Cornell, he co-wrote “You Know My Name,” the theme song for “Casino Royale,” and earned a Grammy nomination for it; he also received a BAFTA nomination for that score.
Arnold has scored more 007 films than any composer since John Barry, who scored 11 Bonds between 1963 and 1987 including such classics as “Goldfinger,” “Thunderball,” “You Only Live Twice” and “Diamonds Are Forever.” A handful of other composers have done one apiece, including Monty Norman (author of the original “James Bond Theme”), Marvin Hamlisch (“The Spy Who Loved Me”), Bill Conti (“For Your Eyes Only”) and Michael Kamen (“Licence to Kill”).
Arnold stepped aside when director Sam Mendes came aboard to helm “Skyfall” and “Spectre” in 2012 and 2015 and requested his frequent musical collaborator Thomas Newman for both. Newman received an Oscar nomination and won the Grammy and a BAFTA for his “Skyfall” score.
The still-untitled 007 adventure, being referred to only as “Bond 25,” has begun shooting with Craig reprising the role for the fifth and probably final time.
The Bond films are essentially a family business, so any final decision about a composer is always up to producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson.
Director Cary J. Fukunaga has worked with several different composers in the past, including Marcelo Zarvos (“Sin Nombre”), Dario Marianelli (“Jane Eyre”), Dan Romer (“Beasts of No Nation”) and T Bone Burnett (“True Detective”), so no single musician pops out as an obvious choice – which may leave it open for Broccoli and Wilson to suggest a familiar name.
“A lot of things have to happen before something like that [the composer] gets decided upon, and I’m not sure they’ve started thinking about it,” Arnold said. “These things are incredibly complicated.
“It’s flattering to be asked, because that means people think you might be half-decent enough to have a go at it. I have a huge debt to them [the Bond producers] and I still love the character. I was as happy watching the last two as I was writing the previous five,” he adds. “So it’s a win-win for me.”
“Good Omens” is the latest of several television projects to occupy the London-based composer. In partnership with Michael Price, he scored 13 episodes of the Benedict Cumberbatch series “Sherlock,” winning an Emmy in 2014 for one. He and Price are again working for the “Sherlock” team on a new adaptation of “Dracula” for BBC and Netflix.
He has also penned a song with frequent lyricist partner Don Black for an animated adaptation of the popular British children’s book “The Tiger Who Came To Tea,” slated for a Christmastime airing in the U.K. He and Black wrote the main-title song for “The World Is Not Enough,” the end-title song for “Tomorrow Never Dies” and other tunes for such artists as Shirley Bassey and Scott Walker.
He spent “the most joyous six months” working on “Good Omens,” he says. A favorite moment: writing a lullaby for demon Crowley to serenade the baby Antichrist to slumber. He talked to writer Neil Gaiman about the gentle kind of songs that the Sherman brothers once wrote for “Mary Poppins” and “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” — “the genuinely sweet Disney sort of atmosphere of innocence to try and get a child off to sleep.
“But what if Walt Disney was possessed by Satan? Like Satan trying to be nice,” Arnold says with a laugh. That became the template for the entire score, he says: “Whenever there is something angelic, there is something demonic alongside, and vice versa – something that might be sweet and innocent, but ever so slightly corrupted by the dark side.”