Before production even began on Dan in Real Life -- the funny, heartfelt and sometimes heartbreaking tale of a lonely widower named Dan (Steve Carell) who falls in love with his brother's girlfriend Marie (Juliette Binoche) -- writer-director Peter Hedges set an ambitious goal: to have Dan's soundtrack do for the film what Cat Stevens' music did for Harold and Maude and Simon & Garfunkel's classic tuneage did for The Graduate. In other words, Hedges wanted to find one artist to lend a unique musical voice to Dan; he wanted the songs to be unforgettable and inextricably linked to the heartbeat of the film; AND he wanted the soundtrack to be mentioned in the same breath as some of the most revered soundtracks of all time. Sounds like a job for a seasoned, world-wise-yet-hopeful music legend -- perhaps a Springsteen or a Bono ... or a 25-year-old Norwegian singer-songwriter named Sondre Lerche. Though Lerche's brand of whimsical, romantic indie-rock has been quietly dazzling music diehards for years, he has yet to hit the mainstream -- but that could all change with this film. We talked with Lerche about playing guitar with Steve Carell, soothing Hedges on the film's set and making his big Hollywood debut.
Cinematical: How did you get involved with Dan in Real Life?
Sondre Lerche: Well, Peter [Hedges] had heard a couple of my songs and thought that my music had the right kind of sound and feel for the movie, and so he came to my apartment in New York and we talked about what he was trying to do. He wanted one musician to do all the music, and he wanted it to have a unique feel, like Harold and Maude. Then I played him a song that I had written a couple days before, and he loved it. So I read the script that Peter was in the process of rewriting and started attending auditions and rehearsals for the movie so I could get the mood right.
Cinematical: You were also on the set of the movie during filming. How was that? Care to share any anecdotes?
SL: Oh yeah, I was there as much as I could be -- whenever I was in town. I was there for the scene where the whole family puts on a talent show, and Steve Carell plays the guitar and sings 'Let My Love Open the Door.' I gave him some tips, showed him the best way to hold the guitar and stuff. That was very cool. And Peter also wanted me on the set in case things started going badly so that I could play some songs and calm him down [laughs].
Cinematical: Ha. And did you write the songs as the different scenes were being filmed, or did you wait until the end so you could see a finished product?
SL: I started working on them immediately. I actually wrote the first song a couple of days after I met with Peter. That was about a year and a half ago now.