“Once you go to the moon, I assume you don’t come back the same person and a part of you will always be on the moon,” says First Man director Damien Chazelle.
The highly touted film, which stars Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong, opened Friday (Oct. 12) and explores the astronaut’s historic moon walk. Just as First Man covers uncharted territory, Chazelle and composer Justin Hurwitz wanted to visit new terrain as well.
The Harvard roommates, who have worked together on Whiplash and La La Land — for which Hurwitz won Oscars for best score and best original song — wiped the musical slate clean.
“Damien told me he wanted it to sound completely different from anything we’d done before, so I just started playing around with some production ideas, using some electronics I’d never used before, learning to play the theremin,” Hurwitz says in this exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the music for the Universal Pictures production.
“Justin’s music helps me figure out what the movie is going to be at its core,” Chazelle says. “He was given early drafts of the script and began figuring out what the main themes would be.”
By the time shooting started, Hurwitz had composed full sequences, especially for some of the major moments, including the dramatic moon landing. “There’s a huge cue, full of brass,” Hurwitz says.
Hurwitz also enjoyed scoring the tender family moments, which required a completely different sonic palette.
Back Lot Music released the original motion picture soundtrack for First Man on Friday. The soundtrack also includes Leon Bridges’ rendition of Gil Scott Heron’s “Whitey on the Moon.”