Christopher Willis on The Death of Stalin, the Soviet composers who inspired the film’s score, and more

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The starting point was thinking about Soviet music from the 1950s, of which there was a lot, you know, there was a whole stable of Soviet concert composers who also wrote for movies in that period. Shostakovich being the most famous, and also Prokofiev who was slightly complicated one, because he came and went, and Weinburg. In fact, there’s a large number of others who are not so famous.

And we were thinking for a long time about the tone of it. There needed to be something that would give you the nervousness of the film and genuine danger, but also not tap into a straightforward drama. And going forward, funnily enough, most period dramas are known to tend to limit the sound of the music on the set, so there was something very interesting in getting closer to that sound.

This was a great interview, and I’m really pleased with how it turned out – Christopher was great to talk to, and said some fascinating things about The Death of Stalin.

I’m particularly fond of this one, actually, just because of how nice a guy Christopher was. I’ve found – purely anecdotally – that composers tend to be the nicest of all the people I’ve interviewed. Not sure why; might just be that I’ve largely interviewed some terribly nice people who happen to be composers. But it just sort of sticks in my mind, I suppose.

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Kenny Ortega on his latest movie, Disney′s Descendants 2

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I love the singing. I love the dancing. I love the good humour. I love the production value and all of that is great, and clearly I want to entertain, but I also have the opportunity to inspire, to get people to have conversations, and the beautiful thing is that my life has been filled with so many thank yous.

And perhaps it’s not me that should be getting all these thanks, but kids have said to me for years and years and years and years ‘thank you. You are such an enormous part of my childhood, and you really helped. These movies really guided me. They gave me courage. They gave me confidence. They made me take chances that otherwise I might now have. They made me see the world differently. They made me question myself.’

This is a version of my interview with Kenny Ortega about Descendants 2; we spoke only very briefly about High School Musical, but the main thrust – and most important part – of the interview is Descendants 2. Fun fact: Descendants 2 is the biggest Disney Channel Original Movie ever, and features several up-and-coming actors who are already stars in their own right, with huge fanbases. Hmmph.

Hopefully, the original interview – fully intact and uncompromised – will be made available at some stage. (To be honest, I’ll probably just put it online myself eventually.)

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