When we last parted with Sarah Lancashire’s Julia Child in season one of MAX’s Julia, she decided to pack things up in Boston and seek some well deserved rest and rejuvenation in France with long-time friend Simca (Isabella Rossellini). As season two premieres three episodes today, we join Julia and husband Paul (David Hyde Pierce) as they sample luscious French foods in preparation for the second volume of her celebrated cookbook.
With its move to France, the production adapted a new look and feel. Audiences will find themselves surrounded by essential and authentic French-inspired production design and gorgeous landscapes captured through vivid cinematography. Composer Jeff Danna’s playful Julia score also needed to reflect Julia’s journey through French food and challenging French relationships.
“I added elements of Parisian cafe life to the whimsical sound that my score associates with Julia. In addition to our vintage Julia orchestra, I play mandolin, bandurria, and cuatro, and utilize plentiful accordion and clarinet in the arrangements to give us a sense that our heroine is indeed returning to her culinary roots in France,” Danna explains about his updated score for season two.
As Julia embraces French life, she finds the need to translate it for American housewives. One French dish traditionally made with goose should be, according to Julia, made with chicken as the average American cook seldom has access to goose. Yet, those logical choices set up a multi-episode arc of conflict between Simca and Julia.
Of course, Danna reflects those moments through his accomplished score, and it provided an endless source of playful amusement.
“Those scenes were a lot of fun to score! Musically, I built off the scene from season one where Julia and Simca argue on the phone across the Atlantic. Then, when their bickering continues in-person in France, I heightened the playful elements and increased the Parisian presence in the music,” Danna recalls. “I didn’t play each character as separate, thematically, but rather played their conflicting and ultimately comedic interaction.”
Julia ultimately departs France to return to film season two of her blossoming and groundbreaking cooking show The French Chef. We may leave behind some of the more playful, French-inspired score notes, but we’re returning to what we all love about Julia Child, her unabashed joy for life and cooking captured through her television show.
As with any great character, Lancashire’s Julia grows and evolves throughout the remainder of the season. Danna teases some of this journey as he reveals how his score similarly evolves over the remainder of the season.
“Hopefully, they’ll enjoy the plunge back into Julia’s musical world and be able to sing along with the theme in all the new ways and variations that I’ve presented this season. This year, many new sub-themes and motifs emerge as colorful new characters arrive in Julia’s world. Without giving anything away, Julia ventures into new territories this season, and I had a lot of fun following her there.”
In honor of this new season, Danna created the following extremely fun video that visualizes the Julia theme in unique ways.