Ronit Kirchman (‘The Sinner’ composer) on conveying Jessica Biel’s psychology as her story is peeled back ‘like an onion’ [EXCLUSIVE VIDEO INTERVIEW]

Composer Ronit Kirchman felt like she’d “hit the jackpot” with “The Sinner” because “the plot unfolds a little bit like an onion,” which allowed for musical development. This USA series stars Jessica Biel as Cora Tannetti, a young mother who brutally murders a man for no apparent reason. As a police detective (Bill Pullman) searches for a motive, he uncovers hidden secrets in the woman’s past. “She herself is unaware of big portions of her memory and psyche due to trauma,” says Kirchman. So as the series goes along “you actually get to connect what shaped the psychology of this person,” which “opens up a whole area for music to speak as the voice of that.” Watch our exclusive video interview with Kirchman above.

SEE ‘The Sinner’ competes as a limited series at 2018 Emmys and will be back for season 2

Kirchman wanted her score to evolve as the audience learns more about Cora’s past. “At first, she’s a little bit of a cypher,” she explains, so the music starts out simply with “the seeds of many of the themes.” As Cora’s background slowly reveals itself, “more of the themes really fully articulate themselves.” At the same time, Kirchman had to build suspense as Cora faces possible prison time for the murder. “It both gets more thematic and more driving,” she says, “because everything gets more intense, more urgent.”

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Over the course of her career, Kirchman has worked as a composer in both documentaries (“The Skin I’m In,” “Zen and the Art of Dying”) and fiction (“The Golden Age of Fish,” “Finding Neighbors”). And she was a featured musician on “Trespass,” “Now You See Me,” and “The Finest Hours.”

“The Sinner” received Golden Globe nominations as Best TV Movie/Limited Series and Best TV Movie/Mini Actress (Biel), and Emmys could be next for the mystery series, its cast and crew.

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