How Henry Jackman crafted the experimental score for “Cherry”

Henry Jackman, Cherry Henry Jackman, composer of "Cherry."

Welcome back to the Spool’s weekly interview podcast, More of a Comment, Really…, where editor-in-chief Clint Worthington talks to actors, filmmakers, composers and other figures from the realm of film and television.

In a post-Endgame world, it’s no surprise that brothers Joe and Anthony Russo are taking a step back from multi-billion-dollar superhero tentpoles into slightly smaller, grittier territory. Their latest, Cherry, based on the semiautobiographical novel by Nico Walker, certainly achieves that, though with no small amount of style.

As the latest component of Tom Holland‘s post-Spidey career pivot to a Serious Adult Actor, Cherry casts him in the titular role of Cherry, a cynical Army vet who comes home from the hells of the Iraq war to succumb to opioid addiction (along with his waifish wife Emily, played by Ciara Bravo), turning to bank-robbing to fund their habit. Along the way, the Russos treat us to a jaundiced, blackly-comic version of Cherry’s worldview, from his idiot friends to the myopic military leaders and soldiers he meets in his time in the service. And at the core of it all is Holland, leveraging some of that quirky Peter Parker energy to the role of a manic kid with nothing to lose.

Undergirding the Russos’ jaundiced style here, hitting somewhere between Stanley Kubrick and Harmony Korine, is the off-kilter, experimental score courtesy of the ever-versatile Henry Jackman. He’s spent the last decade or so scoring one blockbuster after another, an acolyte of Hans Zimmer who’s scored everything from X-Men: First Class to Captain Americas 2 and 3, where he first worked with the Russos. Cherry gives him the chance to try out a bunch of new, weird toys, including some whose provenance is unknown even to him, as you’ll hear. The results are fascinatingly disorienting and tongue-in-cheek, which perfectly fits the overwhelming disconnect of Cherry’s worldview.

I sat down with Jackman to talk about working with the Russos as they transition out of superhero work, and the vast array of musical techniques and instruments he employed in his freewheeling experimentations with Cherry‘s score. Take a listen to the podcast, and hear a live performance of a section from the track “The Comedown.”

Cherry is currently playing in select theaters, and comes to Apple TV+ March 12th. The soundtrack is currently available courtesy of Lakeshore Records.

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