Trent Reznor On 'The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo' Score & Golden Globe Nomination
The evolution of Trent Reznor continues.
The frontman of the iconic industrial metal band Nine Inch Nails scored his second Golden Globe nomination on Thursday for his work with partner Atticus Ross on the score of David Fincher's new film, "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo." Last year, he worked with Fincher on "The Social Network," earning both Golden Globe and Oscar wins for what was his first full movie score. With "Dragon Tattoo," he upped the ante with a dark, edgy instrumental audio story. Included in the mix was his cover of Led Zeppelin's classic "Immigrant Song," done with Karen O., a track that has led the film's teases.
Reznor spoke with The Huffington Post about the nomination, the intense experience of creating this score with Fincher and his new career in film.
This is the second straight year that you've been in the awards season mix. How does this year's nomination feel compared to last year's, which was your first?
"The Social Network," everything was quite a surprise, because nobody -- well, Atticus (Ross) and myself -- when we were asked to work on the film, it never crossed our minds that there would be an awards season, that we'd ever be up for anything. That's not because we didn't think we did good work. ... Not coming from the film world, we never thought of it. So that whole unraveling, the revealing of the momentum of the film of lots of people liking it, leading up to the nominations, was quite flattering. To be quite honest with you, to work in a new discipline, to have your peers say "Hey, that didn't suck."
This time around -- this being a much different kind of film -- I think our work being intentionally a bit more subtle and woven into the picture more. I think the music was intended to be a bit more -- you didn't notice it, it's meant to be weaved into the actual film and manipulate in a more perhaps subtle and devious way. Without having any big bombastic scenes that you could hum on your way out of the theater, I didn't think it would be in the cards for us this year, but again, it's very flattering.
Does it feel more personal, because doing a film like this may be more your style?
Not having any elaborate or any extensive history in doing this, it seemed like a movie that was darker, and it felt more outwardly evil, which would probably be easier and be less of a stretch for me to figure out how to make that sound. In practice though, as we started working, you realize after that first session of getting all the sounds of your system, you realize this is actually a much more complex film in terms of lots of space to be filled with music, and it became with hard work, quite honestly. I've learned a lot in the process.
Your scoring work has largely been with David, and he's so particular and meticulous about everything he does, how much do you work with him? Or does he just trust you and let you do your thing?
It's a very respectful situation. It's new for me because in my world, I'm the boss, so it's been interesting to work collaboratively on a project where I'm clearly not the boss. It's been an interesting process, but it's worked and it's been actually very stimulating and challenging, because the key to it is respect. And I very much respect David not only as a filmmaker, but as a person and a friend. And I get the same feeling back from him, so there's a lot of leeway to what I want to do, but there's a very hands-on amount of input that comes from David, from the smallest detail to the big picture.
Do you usually find yourself agreeing with what he has to say?
Often, we do. Sometimes we don't. And when we don't, what I've realized is that, four out of five times, he's looking at things in a much more zoomed out, more overview than I am. He has this uncanny ability to pay attention to these small details, whether that be a tiny bit of dialogue or background noise in shots or whatever it may be, to also maintaining the film flowing and making sure it makes sense and it doesn't have boring spots and it keeps the pace. And generally when we've disagreed on something, it's because I didn't realize there's another shot that goes in before this one that we're arguing about. And when I see it, I go, 'Ah!' Now, he probably could explain it better, but all in all, it's been a good process.
Was it easier a second time around?
I'd say this was actually much harder. We tried a slightly modified approach. "The Social Network," we got involved pretty much after the film was finished, there was a cut we saw of the movie that wasn't radically dissimilar to what came out in theaters a few months later. "Dragon Tattoo," we were writing these a few months before the cameras rolled, and we were providing him with stuff so that when he was starting to piece together rough composites of scenes, there already was music that could live in those frames with it, so it becomes part of the fabric of the movie.
That led to a hell of a lot more work on our part, because typically a composer will get involved in a film after it's pretty much finished and compose for the scenes. We were composing large chunks of music that just kind of fit the tone of the film, the library of different emotions that could be used in different places. And as those start getting placed in scenes, the scenes inevitably begin changing, and then the order of the movie starts to shuffle around. And every one of those changes is like, okay, let's go back and re-record how the melody works here.
The lead up to the film always has trailers set to the reworking of Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song" that you did with Karen O. That's what they're teasing, that kinds of set the whole tone. How did you approach that?
That took a hell of a lot of time to do that, and also from the position of, "Hey, do you want to cover a classic rock song?" You're kind of setting yourself up to fail. A lot of time spent revising that and trying to get the tone just right. Again, when he brought up the idea of doing it, he fully didn't explain the context of what it would be used for, so there was a bit of head scratching on our part. "'Immigrant Song'"? With Karen O.? We'll try it, we'll see. We know we could sabotage it; it could end up sucking." But we ended up with something, surprisingly, I'm quite proud of.