[WATCH] Composer Marcelo Zarvos (‘Fences’) on ‘complementing the language’ of August Wilson’s play

“The original material couldn’t be any stronger,” admits “Fences” composer Marcelo Zarvos during our recent webcam chat (watch above). So when it came to scoring this Denzel Washington helmed adaptation, the goal was to, “really complement the language” of August Wilson‘s Pulitzer Prize-winning play. Washington stars in this Paramount Pictures release as Troy, an African American father struggling against race relations in 1950s Pittsburgh while trying to raise his family and come to terms with events in his life. Both he and Viola Davis reprise their Tony-winning roles, and have recently been nominated at the Golden Globes and SAG.

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He reveals that Washington wanted, “a very light touch. It was very important to him that the score not be overbearing.” As well, “we knew that there wasn’t going to be a lot of music,” and in fact, “the first score piece comes thirty minutes into the movie. So everything was about the play at the end of the day, and the original material.”

Related: Watch our interview with Stephen McKinley Henderson (‘Fences’)

Zarvos has twice been nominated at the Emmys twice for Best Movie/Mini Score: “Taking Chance” (2009) and You Don’t Know Jack” (2010). He has jumped back-and-forth from the big screen to the small, with credits ranging from films such as “The Good Shepherd” (2006), “Brooklyn’s Finest” (2009), and “Enough Said” (2013), to TV shows such as “The Big C,” “Ray Donovan,” and “The Affair.” With “Fences” having a strong showing in the awards race thus far, is he looking at his first Oscar nomination?

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