Directors who worked with Jóhann Jóhannsson are mourning the loss of the Icelandic composer, who died of unknown causes on February 9. The recipient of back-to-back Oscar nominations in 2015 (“The Theory of Everything,” for which he won a Golden Globe) and 2016 (“Sicario”), Jóhannsson was 48 years old.
“I am devastated,” “The Theory of Everything” director James Marsh wrote in an email to IndieWire. “I’ve lost a dear friend and we have all lost the beautiful music he carried within him. Jóhann was a brilliant and unique artist. His personality is alive in his music — thoughtful, inquisitive, gracious, idiosyncratic, sometimes melancholy, sometimes witty and above all, pure.”
Jóhannsson also composed the score for “The Mercy,” directed by Marsh and based on the true story of Donald Crowhurst (Colin Firth), a British amateur sailor who died while competing in a globe-crossing yacht race in 1969; it was released this weekend in the UK and Australia.
“We had an intimate collaboration on two films and we were talking about others in the future,” Marsh continued. “No more. I can’t quite accept that yet. Nor his passing. He was that rare thing, supremely gifted and a kind, lovely and decent man.”
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Darren Aronofsky seconded Marsh’s sentiments in his own statement: “Jóhann was a gentleman. He was a brilliant collaborator with a wholly unique approach to sound and music. This is a terrible loss.” Aronofsky originally asked Jóhannsson to write the score for his 2017 film “mother!,” but they then vetoed a score entirely, relying instead on a more experimental soundscape. Jóhannsson was credited as a music and sound consultant.
Panos Cosmatos premiered his latest film, “Mandy,” at the Sundance Film Festival on January 19. Described by IndieWire’s Eric Kohn as a “stunning dose of psychedelia and derangement… folded into the constraints of a woodsy revenge thriller,” “Mandy” includes an outlandish Nicholas Cage performance, set to a score by Jóhannsson. The director offered his condolences on Twitter.
Johann was a genius with a sensitive spirit. This is heartbreaking.
— panos cosmatos (@panoscosmatos) February 10, 2018
In 2016, Jóhannsson penned the score for the Danish drama “I Blodet” (“In the Blood”), the directorial debut of longtime writer Rasmus Heisterberg. “Jóhann’s sudden passing is a shock,” wrote Heisterberg in an email to IndieWire. “He was an incredibly generous and kind man, and an unbelievably talented musician. His music is truly unique and beautiful beyond words. My heart goes out to his family and loved ones.”
During his career, Jóhannsson also earned three BAFTA Award nominations. Today, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts also lamented his premature passing.
We’re extremely saddened to learn of the death of Jóhann Jóhannsson. He was BAFTA nominated three times – for his scores for The Theory of Everything, Sicario and Arrival https://t.co/s07L229JuL
— BAFTA (@BAFTA) February 10, 2018
Max Richter — the composer on HBO’s “The Leftovers” and Martin Scorsese’s “Shutter Island” — remembered his late colleague by sharing a link to Jóhannsson sophomore solo album.
Awful news about Johann. His thoughtful and moving work survives him. Going to listen to the beautiful Virðulegu Forsetar now. https://t.co/MnD5zi7LJ6
— Max Richter (@maxrichtermusic) February 10, 2018
Jóhannsson’s death comes weeks before the Easter-weekend release of his upcoming film “Mary Magdalene” in Europe.