'24' Composer Sean Callery on Scoring 'Live Another Day's' Action-Packed Episodes
UPDATED: The Emmy winner talks to THR about jumping back into the world of Jack Bauer and working with Howard Gordon, whose "Homeland" he also composes for.
Like star Kiefer Sutherland, composer Sean Callery worked on every episode of Fox's 24. But when news broke that the show was being revived as a 12-episode event series, Callery wasn't sure if he'd be involved with the new iteration and hadn't previously heard anything about it.
"When I read … that it was coming back, I had not heard about it, so I did put out an email to [24 showrunner] Howard Gordon," Callery tells The Hollywood Reporter. "I said, 'I hope I'm on this. I hope I can still work on this.' And he said, 'Of course. What are you talking about.' "
Still, when Callery jumped back into the world of Jack Bauer, composing the score for the first scene of the first episode of Live Another Day, he felt a pang of uncertainty.
"I had not composed any music for 24 since the spring of 2010. That was almost four years," Callery explains. "So I was curious as to how it would be revisiting the musical language of the show."
But like castmembers who previously told THR that they found it surprisingly easy to return to their 24 characters, Callery "was delighted to find … it was a very comfortable fit.
"It was a very familiar and cool feeling," he says.
Although music in 24 is nearly omnipresent, Callery says he still goes through each episode and spots it to find scenes where there should be music in the background. He also likes to read the first two or three scripts of each season to get a sense of where the show is going before the episodes are turned over to him for scoring.
"I tend to not want to read too many scripts beyond the second or the third because I like to not know how the story is going to precisely unfold. I like to be able to discover that, if you will, along the way," he says. "So I'll read the first, probably two scripts, and then I'll start thinking about colors and thematic ideas and things that may come up from things I'm just reading off the page."
Once he receives an episode, he'll start composing music for the part that stands out to him the most, he explains.
"I pay attention to what comes up for me emotionally and what I feel when I'm watching the show, and generally there is some moment in the show that I intuitively or instinctively decide I would like to start there first," Callery says. "Sometimes it's an action scene, sometimes it's a very emotional exchange, and it can vary greatly. But I really just pay attention to what I feel as a fan when I'm watching it, and then I start from the area that inspires me the most at that moment."
Although Live Another Day is more compressed than 24's previous 24-episode seasons, Callery has found that he works pretty much the same way. He has four episodes left to score, but he has a sense of how the current edition will end.
"I do have a clue, at least, as to how they plan on concluding this chapter, and it's going to be very exciting," he says.
Once Live Another Day is done, Callery has plenty of other shows to work on. He's also the composer for Elementary, Bones and Homeland, where he continues to work with Gordon as well as showrunner Alex Gansa.
Callery explains that his previous experience working with Gordon as well as Live Another Day showrunners Evan Katz and Manny Coto has created a rapport that's helpful as he works on the new series.
"If there's something in the episode that needs to be brought out or there's something that Manny and/or Evan wish to make me aware of, we have a rapport with each other and a dialogue with each other and certainly an understanding of the show where we communicate very directly. And that communication really helps with the execution of the show," Callery says.
Despite their history of working together, Callery won't be collaborating on Gordon's new FX series Tyrant, which Oscar and Emmy winner Mychael Danna will be scoring.
"There was interest in having me work on the score, but because 24 was just such a monumental amount of work, I had an instinct that Tyrant would require as much time if not more, and I just didn't feel I would be of good service to Howard if I did," Callery says. "I would not have served the show properly."
But Callery, who's good friends with Danna, is happy with the way things worked out, saying he thinks Danna "will bring something truly unique and original to the project."
"Given the way it all came about I think [Danna] was kind of destined to do it," says Callery.