‘Joker’ DP Larry Sher and Composer Hildur Guðnadóttir Go Deep in 40-Minute Interview

     January 14, 2020

With Joker up for 11 Oscars, I thought this would be a good day to repost my interview with Joker DP Larry Sher and composer Hildur Guðnadóttir.

I don’t think a lot of people predicted that Todd Phillips’ Joker would become the first R-Rated movie to pass one billion dollars at the worldwide box office. While everyone knew the film would do well after the thunderous reviews came out of the Venice and Toronto Film Festivals, what Joker has done around the world is nothing short of a monumental achievement. And while almost all the praise ends up on Joaquin Phoenix’s shoulders due to his Oscar worthy performance, making any movie is a team effort, especially when talking about the music and cinematography.

joker-movie-posterLike all of you, when I first saw Joker I was blown away by composer Hildur Guðnadóttir’s  brilliant score and director of photography Larry Sher’s  fantastic cinematography. The way the music plays over Phoenix’s mesmerizing performance, and how Sher captured his spontaneous approach to the character, had me on the edge of my seat. Both of them brought their A-game to the film and they’re part of the reason the movie has broken all sorts of records.

As a big fan of both of their work, I was extremely happy when they came by the Collider studio for an extended interview on the making of Joker. They talked about the massive worldwide success, how the project came together, the way Guðnadóttir came up with the music and how they used it on set when filming, if they think the events in the film actually happened, deleted scenes, filming the ending, what it’s like trying to film an actor who likes to improvise, and so much more.

If you enjoyed Larry Sher and Hildur Guðnadóttir’s work on Joker, I promise you’ll enjoy this interview.

Check out what they had to say in the player above and below is exactly what we talked about.


Image via Warner Bros.

Larry Sher and Hildur Guðnadóttir:

  • Did you ever think it was going to be as successful as it has been?
  • They did not anticipate it would be this huge. They thought it would be irritating for its lack of action, might disappoint standard fare audience member or comic book fans.
  • How surprised they were by the movie’s success.
  • Human actors with no CGI. Not at all what people expect from a comic book film. The risk of making a character study instead of an action movie.
  • How did Todd Phillips first mention the project? Todd’s initial idea and how he pitched it to Sher.
  • How long did Sher know about the project before the rest of the public knew?
  • How did Hildur get involved? How did she conceive of the score? Her score was written just from reading the script and they actually played it during filming to inform the scenes.
  • What is their take on whether or not the movie was real or if it just all happened in Joker’s head? Which scenes were real and which weren’t?
  • joker-joaquin-phoenix-zazie-beets

    Image via Warner Bros.

    Discuss what changes to the story were made in real-time as they were filming.

  • Are there any deleted scenes that you were sad to see go? Did Hildur score any scenes that were deleted? There was a scene of Joker in the bank with Sophie.
  • What were the most difficult scenes to score?
  • Discuss the ending and how it came together.
  • How the score both mimics the character of Joker and communicates things about him.
  • What is it like trying to film an actor like Joaquin who is doing constant improv? You can’t predict where he’s going or what he’s going to do, how difficult is that to film? The challenges of filming scenes in which the actor never does the same thing twice. In particular that wild refrigerator scene.
  • joaquin-phoenix-joker-movie-image

    Image via Warner Bros.

    How many cameras did Sher use? Was there a lot of coverage? Most shots were designed to be single camera, but Sher was operating a B camera to try weird things and push way in.

  • How does Hildur write music? Is it a 9-5 thing? Do you work just a few hours while you’re feeling inspired? “What does it feel like to be inside Arthur’s head? What does Arthur’s head sound like?” – Hildur. The bathroom dance scene was the breakthrough. This is the starting point, this is his music, everything is built from this.
  • Discuss their next projects. Sher might be shooting a bigger DC movie, but he won’t say which.
  • What TV show would you love to guest shoot / guest score?

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