Leopold Ross is the kind of guy who gets excited to be in the presence of legendary monsters. So you can imagine his joy at being asked to compose the music for the Apple TV+ series “Monarch: Legacy of Monsters,” the highly anticipated show in the MonsterVerse franchise that premieres November 17 on the streamer. Except that the truth is, Ross went all-in on the show before he even knew what it was about. As he told Gold Derby’s Latasha Ford during a jam-packed launch event at the DGA Theater in Hollywood this month, he agreed to be the show’s composer based solely on the fact Chris Black had signed on as its showrunner/executive producer. They had worked together once before, on the 2016-2018 Cinemax horror drama “Outcast.” ‘When I got the call to do the show, I just said yes immediately because I love Chris and I really wanted to work with him again,” Ross says, “and I didn’t even really take on board what the show is about.” Watch our exclusive video interview above.
A British-born musician, Ross early on worked on the British crime drama “Touching Evil” from 1997-99. He went on to produce and engineer a host of musical artists, including the Transplants, Grace Jones, Bad Religion, Korn and the Dillinger Escape Plan. He also contributed writing and production to the score fore the Hughes Brothers movie “The Book of Eli.”
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But back to “Monarch.” Ross went slightly wild after discovering what he’d just agreed to do the music for. “The first thing they sent me (showed) the female lead, Cate (Anna Sawai), arriving in Tokyo, which is in episode one,” he says. “So, I’m watching the footage and she arrived, and she’s walking through the airport, and then these flashbacks come in and it’s Godzilla onscreen, and I’m like, ‘Oh my God!’. My jaw was just on the ground. I’m like, ‘OMG, that’s Godzilla!’ So I’m freaking out. But that was the moment that a wave of adrenaline and inspiration just hit me. This is such a crazy and exciting opportunity to be able to write music for a genuine screen icon. Everyone knows who Godzilla is…Then I just set off on a tear of writing music from there.”
What kind of music goes well with a heat beam-firing prehistoric reptilian monster? It seemed to kind of come out of Ross organically. And his boss Black apparently trusted his composer that he’d figure it out. “He kind of leaves everybody to do their jobs the best they can,” Ross stresses. “And then amongst ourselves, there’s a little bit of bobbing and weaving, particularly in a show like ‘Monarch,’ because it’s so bombastic from a sound point of view. There’s so much coming from the sound effects department, particularly when the Titans are onscreen. It’s loud, so I think there’s a lot of dancing that has to happen between all of the departments like, ‘OK, I’ll let the sound hit the Golden Gate Bridge coming down, and then I’ll do my little melody afterwards.”
Ross offers that his favorite of the “Monarch” episodes is the sixth “because it really has this gigantic, epic scale to it in terms of going across dual timelines. We’re going into completely different areas of the globe. There’s just so much spectacle to it that stands out to me as just a super fun and exciting ride.”
Asked which iconic monster he most most afraid of himself in his youth – Godzilla or King Kong – Ross replies, “Godzilla, obviously.”
“Monarch: Legacy of Monsters” features a cast headed by Kurt Russell and Wyatt Russell. The series premieres on Apple TV+ on November 17 with a pair of episodes. A new episode follows each Friday through January 12, 2024.
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