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January 13, 2013 at 05:56 PM EST

Zero Dark Thirty

This score couldn’t be less similar to Argo, but both are tense, thrilling films. How did you approach Zero Dark Thirty?

Argo is about the hope of a happy ending. In Zero Dark Thirty there’s no hope, only death all along the path on both sides of the parties. Whoever we call the good guys and the bad guys, whoever they are, they all try to kill each other. And the end, the only thing you see at the end of the road is a killing. You follow the path of Jessica, and her goal is only to find and kill. It’s a very different suspense. The word suspense was never used in our conversations with Katherine. It was always about the inevitability of the killing. The rawness. We kept repeating to each other that we didn’t want to write a theme score.

What was the most difficult scene to write music for?

All of them! The music when the helicopters start flying at night over Pakistan to go to the compound [“Flight to the Compound”], this is the music that I think really tells the story well. It’s a real mix of things. There are some heavy electronic sounds that I tailored myself and kind of created. There’s a big orchestra but it’s not a classical symphonic layout. There’s no woodwinds. There’s no violins. I’ve used only the lower instruments of the orchestra – the bases, the cellos. And for the brass, all the tubas, trombones and french horns. And only once at the end you hear a trumpet, giving a little bit of light. The sound is really dark and deep and earthy. Or one could say sandy! It’s the sound of a war zone.

NEXT: Desplat goes back to France to work with his longtime collaborator, Jacques Audiard on Rust and Bone

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