Interview by Paul Salfen
Emancipation tells the triumphant story of Peter (Will Smith), a man who escapes from slavery, relying on his wits, unwavering faith and deep love for his family to evade cold-blooded hunters and the unforgiving swamps of Louisiana on his quest for freedom. The film is inspired by the 1863 photos of “Whipped Peter,” taken during a Union Army medical examination, that first appeared in Harper’s Weekly. One image, known as “The Scourged Back,” which shows Peter’s bare back mutilated by a whipping delivered by his enslavers, ultimately contributed to growing public opposition to slavery.
More On Marcelo Zarvos: The subtle nuances of composer Marcelo Zarvos’ style are evidenced in his recent scores for FENCES directed by and starring Denzel Washington, Golden Globe-winning THE AFFAIR and RAY DONOVAN. Though his training began by studying classical music he later began delving into jazz, rock and world music. This expansion of influence helped to create Zarvos’ trademark sound – a seamless blend of classical, orchestral, rock, electronic and various ethnic elements, that together create uniquely affecting and emotionally charged music for film, TV, modern dance and the concert stage.
Zarvos most recently scored the acclaimed hit film WONDER starring Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson and Jacob Tremblay and directed by Stephen Chbosky which opened in November 2017.
Because of his skill with layered stories and emotive undertones, Brazilian-born Zarvos has become the go-to composer for filmmakers like Nicole Holofcener (ENOUGH SAID, PLEASE GIVE, the recent Amazon series ONE MISSISSIPPI), Antoine Fuqua (BROOKLYN’S FINEST), Tod Williams (THE DOOR IN THE FLOOR), Ross Katz (THE CHOICE), Cary Fukunaga (SIN NOMBRE) and Barry Levinson (THE HUMBLING, YOU DON’T KNOW JACK, ROCK THE KASBAH).
A classically trained pianist and composer, Zarvos earned his BFA from Cal Arts. He burst onto the film landscape in the early 2000s with his score for KISSING JESSICA STEIN and with the film adaptation of the John Irving novel, THE DOOR IN THE FLOOR. Zarvos’ credits include THE GOOD SHEPHERD, THE WORDS, BROOKLYN’S FINEST, THE FACE OF LOVE, REACHING FOR THE MOON (FLORES RARAS), SIN NOMBRE, HOLLYWOODLAND, ADULT BEGINNERS, THE HUMBLING, LITTLE ACCIDENTS, AMERICAN ULTRA and ENOUGH SAID.
Twice nominated for Primetime Emmy® Awards (for YOU DON’T KNOW JACK and TAKING CHANCE), Zarvos’ television work includes TOO BIG TO FAIL, THE BIG C, EXTANT the HBO movie PHIL SPECTOR, the Amazon series ONE MISSISSIPPI and Z: THE BEGINNING OF EVERYTHING, the limited series THE ROMANOFFS for Amazon and two current Showtime series THE AFFAIR and RAY DONOVAN.
Zarvos’ recent projects include THE LAND OF STEADY HABITS written and directed by Nicole Holofcener, THE CHOICE (based on the Nicholas Sparks novel), MAPPLETHORPE starring Matt Smith and directed by Ondi Timoner, THE CHAPERONE starring Elizabeth McGovern directed by Michael Engler and adapted by Julian Fellowes which opened in Spring 2019, THE BEST OF ENEMIES starring Sam Rockwell and Taraji P. Henson directed by Robin Bissell which was released on April 5, 2019, BREAKTHROUGH starring Chrissy Metz and directed by Roxann Dawson which opened on April 17, 2019, the two-part HBO Sports documentary WHAT’S MY NAME | MUHAMMAD ALI directed and executive produced by Antoine Fuqua which premiered on HBO on May 14, 2019 and Showtime’s seven-part limited series THE LOUDEST VOICE starring Russell Crowe which premiered on June 30, 2019. He most recently wrote the original score for DARK WATERS starring Mark Ruffalo and directed by Todd Haynes which is being released by Focus Features on November 22.