When “Joker’s” Hildur Guðnadóttir collected the Golden Globe for original score, she became the first female solo winner in the category.
Australia’s Lisa Gerrard shared the award with Hans Zimmer for “Gladiator” in 2000, and other female composers such as Rachel Portman, Kristin Wilkinson and Jocelyn Pook had been nominated, but Iceland’s Guðnadóttir is the first to take the prize on her own.
She has been known as a collaborator of fellow Icelander the late Jóhann Jóhannsson, on many of whose scores she played cello. Jóhannsson had written a notable, pitch-black score for “Sicario”; when a sequel was made after his death, she took on the task of composing in her friend’s absence.
When Todd Phillips, director and co-writer of “Joker,” sought a “dark and heavy” score for his reinvention of the Batman villain, he did something new for him: He sent her the script to have her begin composing right away.
“I thought it was really important to try to go into Arthur’s head, and try to make music from that place — what it meant to be Arthur, how Arthur felt,” she told Tim Grieving for The Times. “And I really felt for him. He’s just a simple, beautiful human being.”
She created his theme, which she called “Defeated Clown,” on her cello.
“It was really like being punched in the chest when I found his notes,” she told The Times in December. “I was like: That’s it! That’s what he’s trying to say ...
“The last time we hear this theme is the most angry version of it — it has massive drums, and the whole orchestra’s just like suffocated the cello. It’s still there, but the anger has taken over Arthur.”
Phillips’ film has been a controversial but unqualified hit. It has grossed more than a billion dollars worldwide, is the highest-grossing R-rated film, won the Golden Lion at the Venice International Film Festival, and now has collected the first-ever Golden Globes given to a comic-book movie for original score and lead actor (star Joaquin Phoenix also won).