Hollywood Flashback: When Trent Reznor Notched a Win for His First Score

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Ross (left) and Reznor picked up a Golden Globe for 'The Social Network' in 2011.

The Nine Inch Nails frontman never had worked on a film project before 'Social Network' director David Fincher approached him about composing music for the 2010 film, which won the musician a Golden Globe and Oscar for best original score.

This story first appeared in a special awards season issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

When David Fincher first asked Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor to compose the score for 2010’s The Social Network, Fincher’s film about Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg, the rocker said no. “It wasn’t the material or him, it was me,” says Reznor, 50, who was busy touring and getting married. But working with the Oscar-nominated director appealed to him, so he called Fincher a couple months later about collaborating. “I’m still waiting on you” for Social Network, replied the director.

Reznor asked composer Atticus Ross, now 47 — who had done one film project, compared with Reznor’s zero — to work with him. They wondered, “Should we do an emergency session with someone to kind of learn the process, or should we just go by what instinctually feels right?” The pair found themselves responding to Jesse Eisenberg’s interpretation of Zuckerberg. “I saw behavior I’ve exhibited myself,” confesses Reznor. “We turned in our first wave of music to David and asked, ‘Is this even close?’ The feedback we got immediately was, ‘I think you’re done — this is unbelievable.’ ” In fact, Fincher thought the material was too innovative, recalls Reznor: “He said, ‘It’s a shame it won’t get the recognition it deserves, but it colors too far outside the lines. I would give you an Oscar if I could.’ ” And the Academy did.