Cameron Crowe taps the atmospheric Iceland musician to score his latest film

By Dave Karger
Updated December 30, 2011 at 05:00 AM EST

Cameron Crowe is a huge fan of Icelandic alternative band Sigur Rós, particularly its frontman, the single-named mastermind Jónsi. So to help We Bought a Zoo star Matt Damon get into an emotional mood for a scene where his character pores over photos of his late wife, Crowe played Jónsi’s magical 2010 track ”Sinking Friendships” on the set. It worked so well that the director eventually enlisted Jónsi to score the entire film. ”He asked for something to look at,” Crowe remembers. ”So I sent him the ‘Sinking Friendships’ scene.” Jónsi remembers being flattered — and a bit confused. ”The only thing I saw was Matt Damon crying to my song,” he says. ”I didn’t know what to think.” But after reading the script and realizing the entire film — about a widower who reopens a run-down zoo in California with his family — wouldn’t consist of people sobbing, Jónsi signed on. The result is an ethereal, atmospheric score. ”I wanted to have it be quite quirky and lo-fi and mix that with dramatic, expansive Hollywood-style strings,” says Jónsi, who created much of his work for Zoo on a Casio keyboard. His music-freak director couldn’t be happier. Says Crowe: ”Jónsi is able to score the highs and lows of life while reminding you that there’s exuberance to life itself.”