James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad is out now in theaters and on HBO Max, and by all accounts is a wild ride. The movie currently boasts a 93% on Rotten Tomatoes with many calling it one of the best comic book films ever. Naturally, such a motion picture required an exciting score, and who better to tackle that task than legendary composer John Murphy (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Sunshine, 28 Days Later).
ComingSoon spoke to Murphy about working on The Suicide Squad, and the composer discussed everything from John Barry’s influence on his work to what it was like writing music alongside Gunn.
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Jeff Ames: What drew you to the world of film composing?
John Murphy: I guess very early on I remember really loving the James Bond movies, which was a big thing for me growing up. And I realized a lot of that had to do with the music and the riffs and the big, bombastic brass; and it all felt so exotic, and it sort of hyped me up as a kid when I was watching this stuff. So, that was probably the first time I became aware movies had music that could really affect you.
A little later, when I was about eight or nine, I watched A Few Dollars More with the great Ennio Morricone score, and I remember thinking, “This is so weird! What’s all this music playing on all these movies?” I started to pay attention more to music in movies and a few years later I got into music — I picked up a guitar and started playing — and then I was in bands from about 12 until I was around 24. I ended up touring with a lot of bands, you know the usual stuff, and then one day somebody asked me if I wanted to write some songs for this movie, Leon the Pig Farmer It would be weird, because it felt like school was out. I’ve always been a bit noisy, and normally I’ll get a director saying, “Oh, yeah it’s cool and it’s very loud. Can we just pull it back a little bit?” With James, it was like, “Yeah it’s really cool but it has to be bigger! Can we go a little crazier here?” I was almost affronted that I had to be told to go for it more! So, yeah, it would be an adjustment to have to sort of go back to school and do a grown-up score again. It was just too much fun. I wanted the holidays to go on a bit longer, you know?
James knows what he’s doing and the beautiful thing about the guy — you know, he’s such a cool guy — but he’s so intuitive musically, and I know that seems obvious when you see the way he shapes songs in Guardians of the Galaxy and stuff like that. He really gets it. I didn’t feel so out there when I was trying different things for him, because I always knew when something went a little too far to the left, he’d pull it back that way — he was like the handrails. If I went on a tangent, or down the wrong path, which I do sometimes, he would just go, “You know, I think it’s great, but I think we lost the point there.” He was always there to keep an eye on things. When you’ve got training wheels, it makes it a lot less stressful to throw crazy stuff out there.
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