Oppenheimer composer reveals why his favorite piece of music from the movie was nearly impossible to pull off

 Ludwig Goransson.
Ludwig Goransson.

Last summer director Christopher Nolan's latest feature Oppenheimer was a runaway success at the box office, nearly hitting $1 billion worldwide – which is even more impressive when you consider the fact that it's a three-hour-long R-rated biopic about the father of the atomic bomb.

Not only was it a hit at the box office, but critics lauded it with countless five-star reviews, meaning it's not exactly a surprise that it is currently leading the awards season race, receiving 13 nominations at both the BAFTAs and the Oscars. As well as earning nods in the Best Picture, Best Actor (Cillian Murphy), and Best Director (Nolan) categories, composer Ludwig Göransson has also been nominated for Best Original Score by both awards bodies, following his recent win at the Golden Globes.

Sitting down with Göransson for a chat ahead of next week's BAFTA ceremony, it's clear that he is still absorbing, well, everything. As he tells GamesRadar+ and the Inside Total Film podcast, the success of Oppenheimer has been an emotional rollercoaster: "It feels incredible. I’m very honored just to experience such a fun, wild ride. I didn’t expect it at all. The movie came out a while ago and we finished it six months before that – I’ve been living in this world for nearly two years now and it’s a really wonderful world and crew to be around. I’m just happy to be here with my friends."


Whilst we wait to see if Göransson will be taking home any more golden gongs, his incredible score continues to make an impression on people, with Oppenheimer still showing in cinemas. He says it's been interesting seeing which tracks are the ones that have proven to be the most popular with audiences, climbing up the Spotify rankings. The question is though – which is his personal favorite?

For Göransson, choosing just one isn't actually a difficult decision to make, as he explains that a particular track stands out due to the fact it was a near-impossible task to record it. He revealed: "I would say it's probably the montage in the beginning, 'Can You Hear The Music', because of the journey we took to create that piece of music, how difficult it was to record it live with the musicians. There's a lot of rhythmical tempo changes there and I didn't think it was going to be physically possible to record it all with the musicians in one take."

Once he finally figured out a solution, Göransson believes it actually changed the whole opening scene, adding: "We spent five days experimenting with different techniques of recording it and we were finally able to capture it in one continuous take – we gave the musicians a click in their headphones before it happened on the page. So, discovering that and how the music came alive with the live performances, and how it changed the entire scene and the entire music, was very, very interesting. It’s such a crucial, inspiring moment in the movie which we then callback to in the end scene, with 'Destroyer Of Worlds'. We go back to that music in a darker, twisted way."

Göransson is currently nominated for both a BAFTA and an Oscar for his work on Oppenheimer. To get the lowdown on the full list of 96th Academy Award nominees, check out our guide to the Oscar 2024 nominations.

For the full interview with the composer, listen to the latest episode of the Inside Total Film podcast.