Few composers have as close a relationship with their directors as Nate Heller does with Marielle Heller, who happens to be his big sister. “One of the benefits of that is I’m able to sort of see what’s coming down the pike for her,” he explains. So when she signed on to helm “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” he got “a look at the script” earlier than usual. Watch our exclusive video interview above.
This Fox Searchlight release tells the true story of Lee Israel (Melissa McCarthy), a celebrity biographer who turned to literary forgery when her drinking and abrasive personality caused her career to decline. She penned letters in the names of legendary figures like Noel Coward and Dorothy Parker and enlisted her friend Jack Hock (Richard E. Grant) to help sell her fakes to literary collectors for top dollar.
The script by Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty made references to several “classic jazz singer-songwriter types” who Israel “really idolized. She lived in that world of music. So that was sort of a jumping-off point for me, knowing that there’s gonna be a lot of source music that’s in this realm.” Heller then had to figure out how to complement that music “without completely aping the genre.” Working with music supervisor Howard Paar, he decided that a “jazz combo focused” score would fit best alongside “that kind of music that Lee Israel really kind of lived in.”
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