While talking to Variety about his score for Steven Spielberg’s The Post, John Williams talked about this work on Star Wars: The Last Jedi and confirmed he’s plans to return with Episode IX. That’s in addition to the previously released announcement that he will compose the theme for Solo: A Star Wars Story, which is scheduled for release in May.
As for “The Last Jedi,” director Rian Johnson says “of all the cool amazing stuff that I was lucky enough to get to do, the experience with John was the highlight of the highlights.”
“We had a very general conversation” a year ago, Johnson says. His music editor then created a temp score of previous “Star Wars” music and provided that to the composer “as a guide for what we were thinking.”
Williams’ references many of the earlier “Star Wars” themes, from those for the Force and Leia to the more recent themes for Rey and Snoke, interweaving them all into a tapestry that spans the entire film.
“When we see Rey, we want to hear Rey’s theme,” Williams says. “And when the Force is referred to or felt, we want to hear the Force theme, and so on. We hope that these references make sense to the fans and make the aural connections that we want them to have.”
The classic themes are augmented by new ones for Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) and Luke’s island hideaway Ahch-To, plus “music for some of the battle scenes and a lot of interstitial connecting material.”
Johnson thought that Williams had the most fun with the casino scene that featured lighthearted alien casino music. “There were guys pulling out plastic trumpets and dog-chew toys to be used as plungers,” Johnson says. “John was like a little kid that day.” One of those pieces was, Williams quips, “a sort of Artie Shaw imitation put through all the wrong wringers.”
All of this required an orchestra of 101, the 64-voice Los Angeles Master Chorale, and 11 days of recording from December 2016 to June 2017. The L.A. musicians recorded 184 minutes of music, some of which was discarded before the final cut of 2 hours, 35 minutes was reached. (By comparison, “The Post” required a smaller orchestra of 76 and was recorded over three days in late October and early November.)
Johnson was so delighted with the results that, Williams says, he would eventually like to release a version of the film “without the dialogue and effects, just the music played in the foreground. All of the accompanimental music will be brought forward — every gesture, the music traveling along with the moods and textures, references to characters and so on.”
Of his involvement with Star Wars Episode IX:
Williams confirms that he told director J.J. Abrams that he will do Episode IX next year. “I would very much like to complete that,” he says.
You can read Variety‘s entire feature on John Williams here.Powered by Sidelines