[Williams] finished recording the score for Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny on Feb. 10 and, while he suggested last summer that the final Harrison Ford adventure would be the last of his 100-plus film scores, that’s not quite the truth.
“I might have meant that at the moment,” he says with a smile, “but you never want to say no unequivocally. If Steven or another director should come along with something that is so moving that you want to drop the phone and rush to the piano and have it all come out — should that happen, with the appropriate energy needed to do it, I wouldn’t rule out a situation like that.”
Recording for the final Indiana Jones film – and three of the previous editions, starting with 1981’s Raiders of the Lost Ark, were Oscar-nominated for their music – began last June 28, and has continued off and on since then.
“It’s certainly got to be an hour and a half of music, maybe more,” Williams estimates. “But I’m quite happy with it. There’s a lot of new material. The old material works very well as a touchstone of memory, but I had great fun, and I have a theme that I’ve written for Phoebe Waller-Bridge, the wonderful actress.” She plays Helena Shaw, reportedly Indy’s goddaughter.
Williams introduced her theme last summer at the Hollywood Bowl at the suggestion of director James Mangold. “And I enjoyed doing it last week with the San Francisco Symphony with [violinist] Anne-Sophie Mutter, who I arranged it for, for that concert. And I think I’ll play it in Chicago next month.”
The composer praised the script and performances of both Ford and Waller-Bridge in the film, which opens June 30. “Harrison is wonderful in it. He looks great, he moves beautifully. The best part of it for me is the writing and the interplay of dialogue between Harrison and Phoebe, like the old-style Hepburn-and-Tracy kind of bickering. It’s witty and bright and snappy, like a duet that goes on for two hours.”
The Indiana Jones scores, Williams notes, “are unified by Indy’s theme, and the general style of the film, which is in my mind a kind of action-comedy, because you never take the action seriously. It’s certainly a swashbuckling affair from beginning to end, fashioned more like movies of the ’30s and ’40s where the orchestra is racing along with the action, which you wouldn’t do in contemporary films very much.”
He liked working with Mangold, who he described as “ebullient” and “a lovely man. He’s done a very, very expert job on a very difficult kind of film to make.”
While there are no more features on Williams’ docket, he’s still writing music. He is planning a concerto for pianist Emanuel Ax, which he plans to start “almost immediately,” and what he expects will be a “lyrical and atmospheric piece” for cellist Yo-Yo Ma, a favorite collaborator from years past. Mutter continues to play Williams’ new violin concerto in her own concerts.