Exclusive: Metallica’s Lars Ulrich Talks Working on ‘Jungle Cruise’ Score for Disney

     September 3, 2020

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Metallica is working with Jungle Cruise composer James Newton Howard on an orchestral version of “Nothing Else Matters” that will play a key part in next year’s Dwayne JohnsonEmily Blunt movie, and the band’s legendary drummer Lars Ulrich offered his first thoughts on the collaboration in an upcoming interview with Collider pegged to the recent release of S&M 2.

The idea of Metallica working on a Disney movie is sure to raise some eyebrows among longtime fans of the band, but it makes a lot more sense when Ulrich explains how it all came to be.

“It really goes back to [Disney production president] Sean Bailey, who is a lifelong rock fan, and is just all-around one of the greatest, most friendly, generous, warm, and embracing people you’ll find in the music business,” said Ulrich. “I think he’s always been a Metallica fan, and we’ve gotten to know each other well. My wife and I are big Disney fans, so there’s a great friendship there, and he’s always looked for the right match where there was a way that Metallica could contribute to some project of theirs. This was the right fit, with Sean leading the calvary, and with James Newton Howard and his track record, and what he’s done.”

Howard is an eight-time Oscar nominee, having been recognized for films such as The Fugitive, Michael Clayton and The Village, and working with him was a big part of the appeal for Ulrich — a major film buff, as you’ll soon learn.

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Image via Carole Segal/Picturehouse Entertainment

“James Newton Howard, the man, the myth, the absolute legend! Considering what’s he’s done, it’s an absolute honor to have done this with him, and we’re excited for the world to hear it. It’s kind of an interesting morph, because it’s kind of — and I don’t want to give too much of it away — but it’s a very unusual morph in that it’s kind of his arrangement of “Nothing Else Matters” that we’re playing. We wrote the song, but he took the song and rearranged it to fit something specific in the film — and obviously, I’m not going to give any of that away — but we then kind of took on his version of it. I think that’s all that should be said.”

Naturally, Ulrich had a lot more to say, bless his heart. You can tell he’s the kind of guy who really appreciates teamwork, and it certainly takes a village to make a movie, as well as to record a movie score.

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Image via Disney

“I got a chance to meet James before we did this, and he’s such a generous, collaborative spirit. And the director, Jaume Collet-Serra, is a Spanish gentleman who has obviously made some incredible films, and Metallica has also been part of his journey. So it was a very natural fit, and as you know, and everybody at Collider knows, film is a very collaborative medium, and for somebody in a band, one of the many things I love about the creative process of film is the collaborative element. So when you look at our association with this film, the first word that comes to mind is “collaborative,” between Sean’s vision and James Newton Howard’s vision and Jaume’s vision. Obviously, The Rock has been very supportive. Dwayne has been very supportive, and it’s a really cool thing to be a part of. I can’t wait for everybody to see it.”

Jungle Cruise follows a wisecracking boat captain (Johnson) who teams up with a scientist (Blunt) to uncover an ancient tree with unparalleled healing abilities hidden in Amazon rainforest, where all kinds of obstacles lurk. The film had been slated for release this summer before Disney decided to bump the big-budget adventure movie to July 30, 2021 due to the pandemic. Edgar Ramirez, Jesse Plemons, Jack Whitehall and Paul Giamatti co-star in the film, and you can click here to watch the latest trailer. Stay tuned for more from our wide-ranging interview with Ulrich.

Drew Taylor contributed to this report.

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