Composer Christopher Lennertz: From “Horrible Bosses 2” to “Galavant”
Christopher Lennertz infused ska beats to highlight new character Rex Hanson (Chris Pine) in “Horrible Bosses 2”. (photo credit Warner Bros.)
Composer Christopher Lennertz was excited to return to the dysfunctional universe of “Horrible Bosses 2”. Much like a casting director, Lennertz hired rock musicians whose styles and sounds accentuated the main characters in the original, “Horrible Bosses,” He was excited to reunite with contemporary rock greats including Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready and Dave Matthews Band bassist Stefan Lessard to expand upon musical themes they established in the original, and create a new sound for the sequel.
“Because we had new characters we were able to add to the band,” said Lennertz. “No Doubt’s Tom Dumont’s ska rhythms had a good vibe that matched with Chris Pine’s character who has this over-the-top quality.”
Lennertz’s launching point for any score is the script, and a sequel is no exception. While he was enthusiastic about returning to the “Horrible Bosses” universe, the characters had evolved since the first installment. Additionally, there were several new characters and scenarios that deserved distinct themes. As with the original, Lennertz created a rock score for the film, allowing the viewer to feel reconnected to the universe and a familiarity to the characters. He referencing particular sounds made by keyboards and guitars that were employed throughout “Horrible Bosses.” Working with the musicians he hired, he elevated familiar themes such as Dr. Julia Harris’ (Jennifer Anniston.)
“In the first movie it was lighter, jazzier and sassy. It was the first time we were seeing her and her actions were completely unexpected,” said Lennertz. “This time we take up the intensity. The element of surprise is no longer relevant.”
Employing rock performers was something Lenertz hadn’t done prior to working on “Horrible Bosses.” While studio musicians are versatile in fast-pace scoring environments, Lennertz enjoyed the chameleon-esque quality each rocker’s unique style brought to the table, particularly when production schedules allotted time to perfect the sounds. While it took some additional exploration of musical cues to solidify themes, musicians such as Lessard, Dumont and McCready were able to get into the skin of the characters and provide a unique, authentic voice to the score. Since “Horrible Bosses” Lennertz has sought specialized rock performers to assist on a number of film projects up to and including “Horrible Bosses 2”. He was particularly fond of the hip hop beats Jurrassic 5’s DJ Nu-Mark crafted for “Ride Along”, his second of three 2014 releases. “Think Like a Man Too” – the sequel to “Think Like a Man” – was Lenertz’s third 2014 release. It presented him an opportunity to revisit and musically expand the characters who had major emotional and personal development at the conclusion of the original film.
While matching rock performers to scoring needs has provided great results for film scores, Lennertz relies upon the skills studio musician have for the labor-intensive, extremely tight deadlines involved in scoring television series. Lennertz recently wrapped the tenth season of “Supernatural”, a series he’s scored since its inception. He also concluded work on the second season of “Revolution.” Jumping between the formats of television and film, and genres as diverse as animation, drama, thriller, science fiction and comedy, keeps Lennertz creatively inspired.
“I’m very ADD. If I did one thing all the time I would get bored. Changing styles makes it easy for me to get fired up and excited about what I’m doing,” said Lennertz. “I’m enthusiastic about finding new styles and sounds. Jazz, classical, hip hop – I just like great music in all styles.”
Lennertz’s interest in music began at an early age. While he grew up listening to John William’s Oscar-winning scores for films including “Star Wars” and “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial”, Lennertz’s childhood dream was to be a rock star. While attending USC’s Thornton School of Music, he attended a recording season for a score Henry Mancini was conducting, and fell in love with the processes. Upon graduating he began his career scoring films including Roger Corman’s cult classic “Piranha.” Since that time he’s earned five BMI Awards, an International Film Music Critics Award nomination and an Emmy nomination.
To continue feeding his creative energy, Lennertz has three projects he’s currently working on. He’s scoring the comic feature “The Wedding Ringer” and an untitled adaptation of Marvel’s Agent Carter comic; a television series set in the post-war forties that’s providing Lennertz the opportunity to use a full orchestra and integrate many jazz elements into the score. Lennertz’s third project finds him assisting Grammy, Tony and Oscar winning composer Alan Manken on “Galavant” – a musical theater meets Monty Python take on medieval love, loss and revenge.
“Alan Manken and I have the same agent, and he knew how much I loved him. Alan’s won eight Oscars, so many Tonys, he’s just incredible. I really wanted to see how Alan did it,” said Lennertz. “It’s been great to be part of a show that is so unlike anything else.”
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