The Spool / Podcasts
Rob Simonsen on The Adam Project and finding intellectual truth in film music
The composer talks to us about going from indies to Netflix's big budget action-adventure film.
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Welcome to Right on Cue, the podcast where we interview film, TV, and video game composers about the origins and nuances of their latest works.

What would you do if you could go back in time and talk to your 12-year-old self? What if you could also see a dead loved one again? For all the whiz-bang action-adventure stuffed into Ryan Reynolds‘ latest film, The Adam Project, composer Rob Simonsen‘s score never strays far from those sentimental questions.

The next collaboration between Reynolds and director Shawn Levy after last year’s Free Guy, The Adam Project follows a time-traveling fighter pilot who flees his dystopian past to crash-land in 2022. And who should he meet but his younger, 12-year-old self, played by newcomer Walker Scobell, who tags along with him on an adventure not just to shake off bad guys from the future who are set to chase him down, but to reconnect with his long-dead father (Mark Ruffalo) and stop time travel altogether.

It’s a film steeped in the nostalgia-friendly Amblin vibes of the 1980s, evoking everything from Flight of the Navigator to E.T., and that’s a throughline Simonsen threads expertly. His is a deceptively simple score, pairing crackling, electronic synths for the high-tech action sequences with the tranquil piano and orchestra of its primary theme — keeping the CG spectacle grounded in the achingly personal.

Easy work for Simonsen, who’s proven himself a versatile composer since he came up in the early 2010s with indies like The Spectacular Now and Fast Color. And earlier this year, he primed the pump for the nostalgia well with his score for Ghostbusters: Afterlife. Now, he speaks to me on the podcast today about his early work as a composer, what lessons he learned from mentor Mychael Danna, and the myriad ways COVID complicated the process of scoring this film.

You can find Rob Simonsen at his official website here.

The Adam Project is currently streaming on Netflix. You can also listen to the score for The Adam Project on your preferred music streaming service courtesy of Milan Records.