Hans Zimmer has scored over 100 films, grossing more than 13 billion dollars at the box office worldwide. He has been honored with an Academy Award, two Golden Globes, and three Grammy’s. In 2003, the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers presented him the prestigious Henry Mancini award for Lifetime Achievement for his impressive and influential body of work.
Hans’ interest in music began early, and after a move from Germany to the U.K., would lead to playing with and producing various bands, including The Buggles, whose “Video Killed the Radio Star” was the first music video to ever appear on MTV. But the world of film music was what Hans really wanted to be involved with. Not long after meeting established film composer Stanley Myers, the two founded the London-based Lillie Yard Recording Studios together, collaborating on such films as My Beautiful Laundrette.
It was Hans’ solo work in 1988’s A World Apart, however, that gained the attention of director Barry Levinson, who then asked Hans to score Rain Man, Hans’ first American film. Levinson’s instinct was right – the score’s Oscar nomination that followed would be the first of seven.
With Hans’ subsequent move to Hollywood, he expanded the range of genres of film music he explored, and his first venture into the world of animation, 1994’s The Lion King, brought Hans the Oscar. The Lion King’s soundtrack has sold over 15 million copies to date, and The Lion King Musical has gone on to win a Tony Award, and to become Broadway’s ninth-longest-running show in history.
A number of scores for animated films have followed, including co-writing four Bryan Adams songs for Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, including the Golden Globe nominated “Here I Am.” Most recently Hans has scored The Simpsons Movie, Kung Fu Panda and collaborated with will.i.am in Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa.
Hans’ career has been marked by a unique ability to adeptly move between genres – between smaller films and comedies (such as Driving Miss Daisy, Peter Weir’s Green Card, Tony Scott’s True Romance, Ridley Scott’s Thelma and Louise, James L. Brooks’ As Good As It Gets, Nancy Meyers’ Something’s Gotta Give, and The Holiday) and big blockbusters (including Tony Scott’s Crimson Tide, John Woo’s Mission: Impossible 2, Ridley Scott’s Hannibal, Black Hawk Down, Edward Zwick’s The Last Samurai, Gore Verbinski’s The Pirates of the Caribbean Trilogy, Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins, and Ron Howard’s The Da Vinci Code).
In the middle of Hans’ unparalleled pace of taking on new projects, his ability to innovate, to re-invent genres is what is perhaps most striking. The film scores Hans has done this for speak for themselves, whether it has been for drama in Barry Levinson’s Rain Man, action in Ridley Scott’s Black Rain, war in Terrence Malick’s The Thin Red Line, or most recently the dark comic book world of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, for which he received another Grammy.
It was Hans’ unique take on the historical in Gladiator that earned him another Golden Globe. The album sold more than three million copies worldwide and spawned a second album “Gladiator: More Music from the Motion Picture.”
Hans’ roots in performing never left him, and in 2000, Hans performed his film music live for the first time in a concert at the 27th annual Flanders International Film Festival in Ghent, Belgium. With a 100-piece orchestra and 100-piece choir, he performed a number of newly orchestrated concert versions of a selection of his work. The concert was recorded by Decca and released as a concert album entitled “The Wings of a Film: The Music of Hans Zimmer.”
His background in collaboration and mentoring never left Hans either, and he created a Santa Monica based musical ‘think tank’, Remote Control Productions, in order to build a creative environment to nurture the talent of those new to the composing world. In the process, he has launched the careers of an unparalleled number of film and television composers, including John Powell (the Bourne Trilogy), Harry-Gregson Williams (Shrek, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason), Geoff Zanelli (Disturbia), Heitor Pereira (Curious George), Henry Jackman (Monsters vs. Aliens), James Dooley (Pushing Daisies), James Levine (Nip / Tuck, Damages), Ramin Djawadi (Iron Man), Rupert Gregson-Williams (Hotel Rwanda), Steve Jablonsky (Transformers), and Trevor Morris (The Tudors).
Hans has received a total 8 Golden Globe Nominations, 9 Grammy Nominations, and 7 Oscar Nominations, for Rain Man, Gladiator, The Lion King, As Good As It Gets, The Preacher’s Wife, The Thin Red Line, and The Prince of Egypt. He has also been honored with the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award in Film Composition from the National Board of Review.
None of this has slowed down his pace. In 2008 Hans scored six films, including Kung Fu Panda, Madagascar 2, Frost / Nixon, and The Dark Knight and Ron Howard’s Angels & Demons. His upcoming films include Guy Ritchies’ Sherlock Holmes starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law, and Gore Verbinski’s Rango.