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Gregson-Williams’ career highlights

Composer reflects on memorable moments

Variety asked Harry Gregson-Williams to select a handful of memorable moments from his career as a film composer.

  • “The opening title of ‘Gone Baby Gone’ will always be special to me, not least because it was one of the hardest things I ever did. The movie came to me with a four- or five-minute voiceover monologue by Casey Affleck. What was needed was a very melodic, slightly wistful piece of music whose lead instrument was already there — the character’s voice.”

  • “(Director) Joel Schumacher was still shooting ‘Veronica Guerin’ on location (in Dublin) and suggested I come over and get a feel for what was going on. I heard this boy singing on the street, and it transported me back, perhaps because of my own background as a boy singer. After much difficulty, I got a recording of him and used it at the moment in the movie when Veronica is shot dead. I couldn’t imagine how I could score this moment any more emotionally than to use the voice of this child.”

  • “I think having a consort of viols and a fantastic (140-member) choir all assembled in Abbey Road for ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ was both thrilling and very alarming for me. I’d had a crash course in how to deal with a viol — I didn’t even know what clef the damn thing played in, let alone what range it was in — and that was a special moment because I was in territory that was completely unknown to me.”

  • “The hush as I picked up my baton before the first note of the concert I did with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra (a suite from ‘The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’). That was totally thrilling and also incredibly alarming. What in heaven’s name am I doing here? I’m a film composer, not a concert composer. It was fantastic.”

  • “I’m not Mr. Romantic Comedy. This was a breezy, 45-minute score for a lovely little film. For ‘Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason,’ what was required of me was a love theme. We went to Abbey Road to record it. Usually I have masses of prerecords, lots of synthesized tracks and programming stuff and complicated machines needing to be synchronized. But on this, it was just the orchestra, ready to play. A very liberating time. It was great fun.”

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