Asked during our recent webcam chat (watch above) if his work on “Homeland” has gotten easier after five seasons, Emmy-winning composer Sean Callery readily admits, “I wish it did, but no.” He explains every episode of this Showtime political drama, “is like a bottle of wine: it’s its own little vintage, and its own little recipe.” And, he adds, “It’s as new to you now in season five as it was in season one, and also every season has been completely different, as fans would remember.”
“Homeland” took a turn at the end of season three when P.O.W.-turned-terrorist Nicholas Brody (Damien Lewis) was killed off, thus ending the central conflict between him and CIA agent Carrie Mathison (Claire Daines). “It was a very interesting time creatively for everybody,” the composer concedes, “because the series began with this fascinating energy between these two extraordinary characters, and certainly the extraordinary acting. I think they knew there was more story to be told, but it did require a little bit of contemplation about how the show would flow and how it would go without Nicolas Brody.” Luckily, they found a way.
Callery also touched upon his work on Netflix’s “Jessica Jones,” which is based on the Marvel comic about a former superhero (Krysten Ritter) who opens a detective agency. “We knew we wanted it to be a neo-noir kind of sound,” he says. “We found, as I started exploring the colors of Jessica Jones, that the intimate and smaller and more organic the sound, the more it clicked with the series, because she’s mercurial; she’s kind of a smart aleck; she lives in the shadows; she has a dark past; but she also has a very warm heart, and the show had to honor all those points.”
He reveals that his efforts on “Jessica Jones” began in a unique way. “When you work on a Marvel series, you have to get security clearance to look at the content. So the very first images I saw of the show were stills.” From these snapshots, Callery began forming musical ideas in his head. “From a creative point of view, it was very neat just to get those things, look at them, and have to go home and conjure up ideas just from those memories.”
Callery has amassed an impressive 14 Emmy nominations, winning three for his work on “24.” “No one knew the show would last as long as it did,” he recalls, “so for it to go eight years was a true blessing.” He returned for both the 2014 limited series “24: Live Another Day,” and the upcoming reboot “24: Legacy,” starring Corey Hawkins (“Straight Outta Compton’). “It’s fabulous,” he raves. “It was just interesting to see an entirely new story fit within the storytelling format that made ’24’ so unique.”
And with “Bones” and “Elementary” still keeping him busy, it’s safe to say Callery is one of the most in-demand composers working today. “What I think is great for people like me,” he says, “and people who want to do what we do, is there’s a lot of interesting content, and there’s a lot of interesting music to be written for those things.”
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