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Marc Shaiman on How the ‘Bros’ Score Nods to Nora Ephron

Billy Eichner didn’t just write, produce and star in “Bros” — he also sings in it.

The rom-com, in theaters now, follows the courtship between Bobby (Eichner) and the hunky lawyer Aaron (Luke Macfarlane), who meet at a launch party for a new dating app called Zellweger. Yes, named after the actress.

Award-winning composer Marc Shaiman was brought on board to thread together the film’s score as the two characters stumble towards love, and out of love, and into love again.  

Shaiman credits Eichner with the song idea for the big ballad of “Love Is Not Love.”

“He came to me just before filming, and he came in with it fully formed,” Shaiman shared. “I just put the right stuff underneath it.” 

In the film, Aaron is a country music fan who cites Garth Brooks as his one of his favorite artists. When Bobby performs for Aaron, he belts a country-esque ballad in the style of the musician. The lyrics harken to their relationship, but comments on LGBTQ+ romance as divergent from traditional love.

The composer says, “I think it was 10 minutes long,” so, he worked on consolidating the ideas in a way that musically flowed. 

Aside from working on the song which will be put forward for best original song awards consideration by Universal, Shaiman was tasked with composing the film’s score. He got the job after writing to producer Judd Apatow.

“I had his email, and when I read about this movie, I sent an email, ‘I’m the king of rom-com scores and I’m gayer than a goose. Who else could score this movie?’” Shaiman shared.

Shaiman says he didn’t want the score to be period-specific, so he took a timeless approach. Director Nicholas Stoller and Eichner also wanted it to be contemporary enough, while “wanting it to sound like a Nora Ephron film.” 

With that note, Shaiman, who scored Ephron’s “Sleepless in Seattle,” thought of “A Wink and a Smile,” a song he co-wrote with Ramsey McLean.  

And so with the “Bros” score, Shaiman says, “I thought of my song for that and paraphrased it a bit.”

The score, which comprises mainly of a rhythm section, guitar, bass and drums, is one he describes as both “gentle and assertive.”

“It helps us as the audience understand that these two are made for each other even before they know it,” Shaiman said. “Of all the films I’ve scored, I’ve never been the predominant piano player on the score, but that is me.”

Listen to “Love Is Not Love” below.

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