Ramin Djawadi hopes the fourth time’s the charm. The acclaimed composer was still a bit stunned on Thursday afternoon (July 13) when he spoke to Billboard after finding out that his work on the quirky score for HBO’s Westworld had landed him yet another Emmy nomination.
“It was a total surprise. I never expect anything,” said Djawadi, who had little time to savor the nom. The good news came just hours after he slipped on his other, furrier hat to perform some of his greatest ancient world hits at Wednesday night’s (July 12) red carpet Hollywood premiere of the highly anticipated seventh season of Game of Thrones, for which he also serves as in-house composer. “That’s always my motto with things like this, so then the surprise is even better. It came out of nowhere for me.”
Djawadi was reacting to Thursday’s Emmy nod for Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music for his keyboard-heavy theme for the future shock western Westworld, which tied Saturday Night Live with the most Emmy love at 22 nomination apiece. He’d previous been nominated in 2006 for his title theme for Fox’s Prison Break, then again in 2010 for Outstanding Music Composition for a Series for FlashForward and in 2014 for Outstanding Composition for a Series (Original Dramatic Score) for Game of Thrones.
This year’s honor comes for the chilly, piano-based track Djawadi cooked up for the title sequence of Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan’s remake of the classic 1973 film. In Westworld‘s opening bit, Djawadi’s haunting theme plays over images of the show’s host-conjuring robots, including several scenes where Djawadi’s hands are rendered as ghostly white robotic bones playing the series’ ubiquitous player piano.
“We worked very hard on the show and it’s really fantastic. I’m ecstatic to be one of [the show’s 22 nominations],” he said. “[The main title theme] is very unique and there was definitely a very positive response to the whole player piano thing. The main title and themes are based on my piano playing and we shot my fingers to match the notes on the piano in the main title. A lot of work went into that.”
In case you slept on the first season of Westworld, one of the most unique twists Djawadi brought to the show was the decision to have the player piano in the Mariposa Saloon perform haunting covers of hits by bands including Soundgarden, The Rolling Stones and Radiohead.
Asked if the as-yet-unscheduled second season of the show will bring back that signature musical magic trick, Djawadi said he’s as in the dark as the rest of us. “I don’t know anything about it yet,” he said. “I’m literally just this week getting into the final stretch of Game of Thrones, and now Westworld is just starting to shoot. I don’t know much about the and I’m just now getting with [co-creators] Jonah [Nolan] and Lisa [Joy] to find out what season two will bring us.”
Djawadi said he hasn’t gotten any insight into the new season yet, so he’s eager to see what’s next for Dolores, Maeve, Teddy and the rest of the A.I. gang. “For the first season I started writing music while they were shooting, but I haven’t gotten any scripts yet, so I’m curious to see what they’re up to,” he said. “Hopefully there will be more piano stuff because clearly it was very well liked and it was fun to do.”