LONDON: Realizing a long-held dream, German Oscar-winning composer Hans Zimmer is to perform live on stage his scores from blockbusting films including “The Lion King”, “Rain Man” and “Gladiator”.
Zimmer, 58, has composed music for over 100 films in an illustrious career which spans over 30 years, winning two Golden Globes and four Grammys alongside his 1994 Oscar for “The Lion King”.
He continues to bewitch cinema goers with recent credits including “Pirates of the Caribbean”, “Interstellar” and “12 Years a Slave”, but has kept a low profile behind the silver screen.
“I have always had stage fright,” he told AFP in London ahead of a European tour which begins in the city on April 6 and will pass through 30 cities including Paris, Berlin and Brussels.
“I think one of the reasons I like being a film composer is because you have a lot of control.”
Despite being the most Hollywood of the European composers, Zimmer scoffed at suggestions that he had gone completely native.
“When I speak German I have an English accent, when I speak English I have a German accent but when I speak music, I definitely have a German accent,” he said, adding that had helped with his breakthrough score.
“The first movie I did in America was ‘Rain Man’, which is the great essential American road movie,” recalled Zimmer of the film that earned him the first of nine Oscar nominations for Best Score.
“For (director) Barry (Levinson), it was important that the eyes of Rain Man, the way you look at America, was through foreign eyes, and when you hear of America, it was through a foreigner’s ears,” he added.
– ‘Story first’ –
Zimmer took the job after Levinson turned up unannounced at his London home, despite not having a script.
“Sometimes I don’t read the script because if the director tells you the story, you know what’s in his head… and you’re already on the right path,” he explained.
“Do I need to see the movie? No, but I need to know what the cameraman thinks. I like to sit with the director of photography and talk about his ideas, his choice of colours.”
It is an approach that has seen him team up many times with some of Hollywood’s biggest directors, including Christopher Nolan, Ron Howard and Ridley Scott.
“With Christopher Nolan, it’s always the story first,” he revealed. “I know from the feel of the colour how I need to feel.”
Zimmer was set to turn down “The Lion King” but was swayed by his young daughter, and the work soon became a cathartic and deeply personal process.
“I didn’t want to do animation, I didn’t really want to do a kids’ movie but my daughter was five years old and like all dads, I wanted to show off,” he said.
“So I said: ‘OK, I’ll do it for my kid, it will be easy.’
“The story is about a father who dies and my father died when I was really young. Suddenly I had to really think about that. So it did become important.”
Despite admitting to stage fright, the self-taught musician, who claims to have had only two weeks of piano lessons, is looking forward to the “different adrenaline” of a live show.
During his concerts, he plays the piano, guitar and banjo, joking he has “very bad taste in instruments”.
“You can’t play ‘Sherlock Holmes’ or ‘Pirates’ without a banjo,” he added.