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John Williams Didn’t Let ‘The Mandalorian’ Use His Music

One of the most iconic elements of Star Wars is John Williams' music for the original trilogy. When news broke that he was returning to compose a new theme for Obi-Wan Kenobi, it was a big deal. 

While he composes the new theme for Obi-Wan, Natalie Holt composes the rest. In a recent interview with FilmSpeak, she spoke about her experiences working with the iconic John Williams.

During this interview, she dropped some details that shed new light on why some Star Wars properties include his music while others do not. 

Who is Natalie Holt?

Holt is a an Emmy-nominated British composer working in the film and television industry. Some of her most recognized work has been in Paddington, Loki, and, of course, Obi-Wan Kenobi. She’s also the composer for the upcoming Batgirl movie. 

She’s broken barriers for women composers in what is still a male-dominated industry. As the composer for Obi-Wan Kenobi, she became the first woman ever to score a live-action Star Wars project

In addition to her work as a composer, she is an accomplished violinist. She performed at the Royal Albert Hall and the closing ceremony of the 2012 London Olympic Games.

She also performed in a memorable 2013 episode of Britain’s Got Talent in which she put down her violin and pelted Simon Cowell with eggs. This was done as an act of non-violent protest to oppose the role of reality TV in the music industry. 

What did she say about working with John Williams?

In the interview with Maxine Vincent for Filmspeak, she talked about balancing the heritage pieces, such as the Imperial March, with new material she wrote for Obi-Wan. This was a collaborative process between herself, Williams, and director Deborah Chow.

Yet it wasn’t always certain that the music from Williams could be used for the show. According to Holt:

“What [Deborah Chow and I] didn’t know was if John [Williams] was going to come on board and if we were going to be allowed to use the heritage themes. So Deborah wanted to do something without the themes, just because it all has to go through John Williams. With Rogue One and The Mandalorian, he didn’t grant permission. So she wanted to do something away from it just in case we got stuck, and we couldn’t use it.”

It all makes sense that Williams must give permission, even to big companies like Lucasfilm and Disney, for them to use his music. Considering what a massive hit The Mandalorian has been, though, it’s interesting to hear that he did not give the show permission to use it.

With Rogue One, it’s perhaps even more surprising as it ties in directly with Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. We still don’t know the exact reasoning behind Williams' decision. 

Nonetheless, Holt had very positive things to say about the legendary composer. 

“‘It’s like, ‘Oh my god. I’ve met John Williams, Cartel Burwell, John Powell, and Danny Elfman this year.’ I feel like this has been one of those crazy years where I’ve literally just met all my heroes,” she said.

You can read the full interview with her at the link here.

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Matt Davis
Matt Davis
Matt Davis is a freelance writer, blogger, and YouTuber from the Kansas City area. As the creator and editor-in-chief of Shall I Stream It, he subscribes to more streaming services than his budget can technically handle. He is a fan of Star Wars, musical theater, and the Oxford comma.

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