Rian Johnson and Nathan Johnson | Photo by Peter Cobbin

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The “Celebrity-Studded Whodunit” makes a comeback with Knives Out, which stars Daniel Craig, Jamie Lee Curtis, Christopher Plummer, and a whole bunch of other famous names. It was written and directed by Rian Johnson, who — with the sole exception of Star Wars: The Last Jedi — has always commissioned a score from his cousin, Nathan Johnson.

They grew up near each other in the Denver area, and were making parody Weird Al songs and genre-inspired home movies from the get-go. Nathan has a band called The Cinematic Underground, and he scored Rian’s feature debut, Brick, in 2005 — followed by The Brothers Bloom and Looper. Knives Out is his first traditional orchestral score, and Rian says it was critical to making the movie work.

The Johnson boys were doing press in New York recently, and they put me on speakerphone for a fun, laughter-filled conversation about those early collaborations, what it feels like when your director/cousin cheats on you with John Williams, what makes the Knives Out score so “cutting,” and more.

Knives Out, written and directed by Rian Johnson, with an original score by Nathan Johnson, is in theaters now.

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