Danny Elfman on His Funny or Die Video and Donald Trump: He's a "Cornered Animal"
The Oscar-nominated composer, who teamed with Funny or Die for "Trump Stalks Hillary," says he's frightened by this race: "I've never been so rattled and nervous before an election in my life."
Composer Danny Elfman has ignited the Internet with a Funny or Die video inspired by Sunday's presidential debate — and no one is more surprised than he is. "Trump Stalks Hillary" features footage from the second debate, with the composer scoring horror music over images of Donald Trump lurking behind Hillary Clinton.
"It's a surprise. I'm a little embarrassed by the attention, really. It was just a little goof," Elfman tells The Hollywood Reporter of the video, which was posted by Funny or Die Thursday.
Elfman, who says he is voting for Clinton, spoke out against Sarah Palin in 2008 during her vice presidential bid, but a Trump presidency is a far more frightening prospect for Elfman, an Emmy winner and four-time Oscar nominee.
Read on for Elfman's thoughts on Trump, the election and the possibility of a followup to the Funny or Die video.
How did this come about?
Two days ago, my agent Richard Kraft put this together — these clips — and he said, "Would you please give me some music? Something appropriate." I said, "Oh yeah sure." I spent an hour. I sent it back. I thought, "OK, 20 people will see this on YouTube."
A lot of people interpreted this as "Danny Elfman's big statement" on the election, but it sounds like you were just having fun?
I was just having fun. The statement is obvious. It was really weird watching [the debate]. Coming up with something to match that was not a big stretch. It was so bizarre watching it. "OK, I'll put some creepy stalking music." It really was just, "Take off an hour of work and do something fun and silly." When I saw it afterwards with my name, it was like, "Holy crap." I wasn't expecting that. I thought it would be a little side note.
Do you think the clip would have been funny, even if it wasn't Trump lurking in the background?
The fact that it was Trump was what made it so amazing. If it was somebody [else] acting peculiar on the stage in the debate, it would have made you raise your eyebrows. Trump takes things to such extremes that it becomes this bizarre spectacle.
What was watching the debate like for you?
I watched the debate biting my nails with great trepidation, wondering what the hell was going to happen. It's so wildly unpredictable. There's never been an election like this. I've never been so rattled and nervous before an election in my life.
And that includes 2008, when you referred to Sarah Palin as "our greatest fear"?
Oh, much more so. Because Sarah Palin was a vice president. For her to become president, [John] McCain would have had to die. This would be the equivalent to Sarah Palin running for president and actually having a decent shot at it and for quite some time actually being neck and neck. That would have been terrifying. This isn't at all like that election. That election made me incredibly nervous. This one just has me a mess.
What is your take on the stories involving Trump and his treatment of women over the past week?
Everything is scary, especially knowing that much of America seems to have a 7 to 10-day memory. It almost doesn't matter what comes out now. In two weeks, will anybody even remember it? It really is frightening. We have incredibly short memories, so it seems.
What are your plans for the third and final debate?
Let me put it this way: I'm glad that I'm going to be asleep in the middle of the night in Tokyo.
So you won't be stressing out about it.
That's a blessing. I'll get up in the morning and I'll reluctantly turn on my iPhone and just hope some horrible thing didn't happen. Everything is such a circus. I have a lot of friends who say, "Don't worry, it's all going to be fine." I'm going, "You can't say that." Trump is a cornered animal. He's dangerous. Anytime you presume that an animal is down for the count that's still kicking and is concerned and desperate — they are dangerous. The fact that he's cornered the way he is makes him exceptionally dangerous in my eyes. And you have pricks like [Julian] Assange out there just vowing to change our election with hacked data. This is like nothing ever before.
Do you think there could be a surprise before the election that could move things more in Trump's favor?
Anything could still happen. We've already seen how things can swing up and back so quickly. It only takes a week for everything to swing one way or the other. When you have foreign entities actively manipulating our information — who of us wouldn't stand some embarrassment if they had ten years of every email they'd ever sent? Ever since that Sony leak, I felt so bad for Lucy Fisher and Scott Rudin and people. This was just private shit and it's nobody's business. It's just a different world. Ever since Snowden, , "Oh, it's a different world. The government [is spying] — we have no privacy." I see it the opposite, in a weird way. It's like, "We don't have any privacy, but it's not the government, it's hackers and people outside our country and inside the country hacking that is invading our privacy."
Do you have plans for a follow-up before election day?
No, but who knows. I may get an even more insane video sent to me in two weeks, going "Hey, score this." Anything can still happen.