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Guilty Pleasures
A conversation with composer Hans Zimmer

"I write film music.  I don't do brain surgery.  I don't cure cancer.  
I just write a little bit of film music."

» Hans Zimmer


The Interview - June 25, 2001



Tracksounds Reviews Wings of a Film:  The Music of Hans Zimmer


General Info:

Born: September 12th, 1957 - Frankfurt, Germany.

Composed the hit song "Video Killed the Radio Star"

Co-produced the soundtrack album for The Last Emperor (1987

Co-Founded Media Ventures with producer Jay Rifkin.


2000 Golden Globe for Best Original Score - Gladiator

1994 Oscar for Best Original Musical or Comedy Score - The Lion King

1994 Golden Globe for Best Original  Score - The Lion King


1998 Oscar for Best Original Dramatic Score - Thin Red Line

1998 Oscar for Best Original Musical or Comedy Score  - The Prince of Egypt

1998 Golden Globe for Best Original Score - The Prince of Egypt

1996 Oscar for Best Original Musical or Comedy Score - The Preacher's Wife

1997 Oscar for Best Original Musical or Comedy Score  - As Good As it Gets

1988 Oscar for Best Original Score - Rain Man

Composer Credits

Black Hawk Down

Pearl Harbor



The Road
to El Dorado

Impossible 2

Prince of Egypt


Beyond Rangoon

Black Rain

Broken Arrow

Crimson Tide

Driving Miss Daisy

Everlasting Piece

The Fan

Rain Man

The Peacemaker

The Power of One

The Rock

Smilla's Sense of Snow

Thelma & Louise

Thin Red Line


John Williams' "Moonlight" from Sabrina.





More Interviews

Sascha Dikiciyan & Cris Velasco (2007)
James Dooley (2007)
Jesper Kyd (2007)
Garry Schyman (2007)
David Robidoux (2007)
Scott Glasgow (2007)

Tyler Bates (2007)
Jamie Christopherson (2007)
Mychael Danna (2007)

Howard Shore (2006)
Trevor Rabin  (2006)
Christopher Lennertz (2006)
Harry Gregson-Williams
John Debney
Greg Edmonson
Christopher Lennertz (2003)
Erik Lundborg
Ron Jones
Edward Shearmur
Christopher Lennertz (2002)
Thad Spencer
Don Davis (2001)
Hans Zimmer
Conrad Pope
Michael Giacchino
Don Davis (1999)
Jeff Rona (1999)


Other Special Features »




CC:  Where did the title “The Wings of a Film” come from?

HZ: I wanted to call the album Guilty Pleasures, because I think people admit to their Paul Simon albums and that stuff, but they don’t admit to owning soundtrack albums.  Actually, Chris Roberts at Decca, who is a very wise man, said that people will think it was a porno album!  Ridley Scott had said to someone that ol’ Hans gives “wings to a film” and that’s where the title came from – It’s a “Scott-ism.”

CC:  You performed a few other pieces at the Festival that night:  Roll Tide (Crimson Tide), The Wheat, and The Gladiator Waltz (Gladiator).  How did you decide which pieces would make The Wings of a Film?

HZ:  So you’re saying I put the wrong songs on the album? (laughs)

CC:  Not necessarily.

HZ:  Some things work when you perform them live…because who cares about a couple of wrong notes.  Now, on the other hand, a couple of wrong notes or even a hundred of them on a CD is forever!  So, some pieces just didn’t sound very good.  You have to remember that when I write a score, very rarely do I write for normal symphony orchestras.

CC:  So is that solely how you decided what you wanted to go on the album?

HZ:  No.  In my mind it was still this “Guilty Pleasures” album.  I didn’t want the album to have too much of the big, pompous stuff.  I wanted to have the fun stuff.  I wanted that whole concert, that whole album, to be about the people I’ve been working with over the years… and not about the directors! (laughs)  The only way you can do this sort of thing, without it being completely pretentious, is to just make it fun.

CC:  Since you don’t do live performances very often, did this experience change your feelings about live performances and maybe doing more of them?

HZ:  It’s gone from “I will never do this again!” to “Well, I’ll have to think about it.”  People like Heitor Pereira and “that band” that keep saying, “Why don’t we do something else?  We’ve practiced now!”  So to answer your question, I don’t know what we would do, but we might.  We are open to offers!

CC:  I have come across some “buzz” about something entitled “Director’s Cuts.” 

HZ:  Oh!  You’ve found that?

CC:  Sure did.  What was the inspiration for this new venture?

HZ:  Well, I’ll tell you exactly where it comes from.  It comes from those poor, orphaned pieces that I used to throw away.  If you listened to More Music from Gladiator, well, there are quite a few pieces there that would never have seen the light of day.  They are not in the movie but they are really a part of the process of how to get "there."  You know what I mean?  They would have been easy contenders for Director’s Cuts had I not done More Music from Gladiator.  So often you write something and you think it’s pretty good, but it just isn’t right for the movie you’re working on. 

I remember on Rain Man,  I was writing away and I had this one tune.  It was a really good tune and I knew, at the time, it wouldn’t fit into the film.  I was on to something, but I just had to carry on writing.  I later played it for Barry (Levinson) and he said “It just isn’t going to work.”  That piece somehow ended up on the batch with all the other stuff I was doing.  Later, I remember walking into a meeting where everyone is screaming at everyone else because that piece ended up in the trailer.  The trailer-guy was saying, “Well, it’s the only ‘happy piece’ he’s written!” 

CC:  So what is the current status of Director's Cuts?

HZ:  God knows.  I have been pretty busy!

CC:  Would you say that Director’s Cuts is, then, targeting smaller film productions that may not have the big budgets to hire a Hans Zimmer, John Powell, or a Harry Gregson-Williams?

HZ:  Yes, well, something like that.  Whatever it is or turns out to be, let’s just wait and see.  It’s an experiment and there’s nothing wrong with that.  It’s not like these orphaned pieces are “bad” pieces of music.  It’s just the wrong thing at the time.

CC:  I haven’t really heard much or read much from you since Oscar night, so I’m curious to ask: Did you feel, in your gut, that you were going to win it?

HZ:  No. I never do.  I never do that.  It would have been nice... but on the other hand, it wasn’t like I was losing to somebody I didn’t respect or someone's music I hated.

CC:  Were you surprised that Tan Dun did win?

HZ:  No.  Not really.  As soon as that movie came out, I said to my wife, “He’s gonna win the best score.”  She said, “You’re crazy!” and as it turns out, I am NOT crazy!  I had a gut feeling about it.

CC:  What about timing?  Gladiator released back in May of 2000 while Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon really began its ground swell at the close of 2000.

HZ:  I really don’t know.  I don’t how it works or why it works.  There has only really been one time that I was upset about losing and that was for Thin Red Line.

CC:  Now, why is that?  What was it about Thin Red Line?

HZ:  I knew it was really good.  Usually I say, “Eh.  It’s ok.”  Even with Gladiator, I said, “Eh, It’s ok.”  But Thin Red Line was really original and it really supported that movie.  I really believe it is good work and I did spent two years working on it.

CC:  It seemed that more buzz was created regarding one piece from Thin Red Line, “Journey to the Line” which was included in the first Pearl Harbor trailer from a year or so ago, than Thin Red Line, itself, ever created.

HZ:  Oh yes!  Absolutely!  I mean thank you very much for the Pearl Harbor trailer, because it did more for Thin Red Line than the Fox press department could ever do.

CC:  Were you pressured to come up with something similar for Pearl Harbor, since  Journey to the Line had become so meshed with the images of the trailer?

HZ:  The good thing is that I didn’t even realize it was used for the trailer.  I didn’t even see the trailer until way down the road.  Jerry (Bruckheimer) had shown me some animatics for Pearl Harbor some two years ago and it had Thin Red Line on it.  So I thought, “Oh, that’s just the piece they are using to play around with.”  Still, that piece was a huge inspiration to Michael (Bay).  I always knew that I was going to write in a very different style for Pearl Harbor .  I mean, I had already done Thin Red Line.  Why would I want to do it again? 

CC:  What about your upcoming projects: Riding in Cars with Boys and Black Hawk Down?

HZ:  Don’t know what I’m doing yet…just working.  As far as Black Hawk Down, I'm working with Ridley (Scott) again, but  I don’t even know where we are going to “park it" yet.

CC:  So at this point, they are just seeds in your mind?

HZ:  Oh sure.  Absolutely. 

CC:  Well, to rap things up, let me ask you this.  What legacy do you wish to leave on the music world?  When people hear the name Hans Zimmer, what do you want them to think of first?

HZ:  {long pause} “Once upon a time, he wrote a piece of music that wasn’t so bad.”  That would be good enough for me!

CC:  I appreciate your time today and all the best with your upcoming projects!

HZ:  Thank you.  Same to you and take care.



The Wings of a Film:  The Music of Hans Zimmer available at Amazon.com


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