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Composer Zimmer Talks Sherlock Holmes, Inception, Dark Knight, It's Complicated

by Anne Thompson
January 16, 2010 6:23 AM
  • |
Thompson on Hollywood

In many ways, the best thing about Sherlock Holmes is its score (released January 12), featuring exotic Hungarian and gypsy instruments. It's one of about a hundred movie scores delivered by prolific German composer Hans Zimmer, who has earned six Oscar nominations; he won for The Lion King in 1994. On February 2, he earned a seventh Oscar nomination for Sherlock Holmes.

Articulate and charming, Zimmer invited me to his lair in Santa Monica, a sprawling complex housing other composers, plus rooms crammed with synthesizers, computers and towers of servers. He's currently working on Inception for Chris Nolan, for whom he composed the score for The Dark Knight. He gave me a tour, showed me where and how he composes and explained his working process on the scores for Sherlock Holmes, It's Complicated, Gladiator, and The Dark Knight. He even plays a bit.

Part One: The Tour.

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Part Two: Sherlock Holmes.

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Part Three: Sherlock Holmes, diversity in his work.

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Part Four: He plays the Sherlock Holmes theme.

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Part Five: Composing so many scores, It's Complicated.

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Part Six: The Dark Knight and Heath Ledger's The Joker.

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Part Seven: Zimmer plays along with Sherlock Holmes, and talks about collaborating with directors like Guy Ritchie.

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  • robson | March 13, 2010 8:24 AMReply

    his studio:
    cubase,jazzmutant lemur,m-audio keyboard,mac,

  • Jason | February 25, 2012 3:01 PM

    Incorrect for the most part.

    Cubase & ProTools (running off their own systems), HP Touch Screen's used with custom control surface software, Doepfer Midi Keyboard, multiple Mac Pro's.

  • Pier | March 11, 2010 12:07 AMReply

    Great interview, I only wish there was more!

  • Steve Pycroft | February 13, 2010 12:49 AMReply

    Amazing! I have followed Zimmer for years, and this day, have I seen an interview so informative, so relaxed and so inspiring. To get a composer like Zimmer to open up about his composing is not common occurance, and though he usually seems relaxed and open to discussion in interviews, seeing him essentially working - playing at the keyboard along with the picture is spectacular! Thank you so much for posting this, as a struggling, yet ambitious composer, videos like this are motivational! Great work, I look forward to more!

  • Randolph | January 21, 2010 9:17 AMReply

    Amazing interview Anne. I wish we could see you interview every composer in Hollywood this way. It's so refreshing to see someone who knows something about film composing interviewing their subject. In the end, we get something so much more deeper, enriching, and intimate because of it. Great job!

  • Fabrice Steurer | January 21, 2010 1:09 AMReply

    excellent! very well done and as soon as always a great composer! with an equipment like that it looks easy to compose great scores and soundtracks :-) I just add this as a news on my website

    Good Job Anne and very nice interview.

  • Dan | January 17, 2010 1:19 AMReply

    Yes, thank you very much, Anne! This kind of stuff really is fascinating!

  • Jerry | January 16, 2010 9:35 AMReply

    Thanks for this. Extremely interesting and informative. Seeing a composer of Zimmer's stature in Hollywood, talk so candidly about their work is refreshing. Despite the experience and vast resources at his disposal it's surprising to see how each new project can still daunt him. He's human just like the rest of us!

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