“Dune”: Film composer Hans Zimmer: “I will never change jobs”

He is probably the most sought-after German in Hollywood and creates the music for the biggest film hits. After winning the Oscar for “Dune,” Hans Zimmer also composed the soundtrack for the sequel.

When his name was announced at the Oscars two years ago, Hans Zimmer was already in bed. The German film composer (“Pirates of the Caribbean”, “Inception”) had retreated to his hotel room after a concert in Amsterdam.

“I didn’t think I would get the Oscar,” says the 66-year-old in an interview with the German Press Agency in London. “I said to my wife, ‘I’m going to sleep now.'”

He received his first Academy Award in 1995 for the music for the Disney classic “The Lion King.” The science fiction epic “Dune” earned him his second Oscar in 2022. He actually told his PR team not to call him. But the phone rang anyway. “My press person said, ‘You win.’ And that’s when my kids came in, jumped on the bed and pulled me out.”

Humble team player

In his bathrobe he went to the hotel bar, where the band and crew from the tour were waiting for him – “fortunately he was already very drunk,” he reports with amusement. “It didn’t matter to them whether we won or not, it was just an opportunity to party.” When he talks about winning an Oscar, he doesn’t say “I,” he says “we.”

This is typical of the sought-after Hollywood musician, who is considered a team player, always appears modest and refers to his colleagues. Like in his speech at the hotel, which was published on social media. “If it weren’t for you and most of the people in this room, this would never have happened.”

Hans Zimmer once again composed the film music for “Dune: Part Two” (German cinema release: February 29th). “When we finished the first film, I just kept writing,” he says with euphoria. With unconventional rhythms and dramatic singing, he has created a spectacular, strange and futuristic soundscape that makes every scene in the visually stunning epic appear even larger.

Affair of the heart “Dune”

He first worked with director Denis Villeneuve on “Blade Runner 2049”. The passion for “Dune” unites the men, who are good friends. They both read and loved the book when they were young, but they are still teenagers at heart. “We just had the advantage that we’ve been on our feet a few times, made a few films and know how to do things like that,” he says with a laugh. Now we have the appropriate technology to film the material appropriately. He says he has never seen David Lynch’s “Dune” from 1984.

The Frankfurt native speaks with an English accent, but fluently. “Of course my German isn’t that good anymore,” he says, somewhat embarrassed. “I came to England when I was 13 or 14. And to really learn English, I had to stop thinking in German.” His musical career began in London.

“Rain Man” made him famous in Hollywood

He played keyboards and synthesizers in a band and worked with the Buggles. He can even be seen briefly in the music video for “Video Killed The Radiostar”. He came to film music through advertising jingles. Stephen Frears’ My Wonderful Laundromat was one of his early projects. His big breakthrough in Hollywood came when Barry Levinson hired him for the drama “Rain Man” in 1988. Hans Zimmer received his first Oscar nomination for his film music. He still plays the theme tune at his spectacular concerts today.

There is never a shortage of offers. In addition to “Dune,” his most famous projects of recent years include “James Bond: No Time to Die” and “Top Gun: Maverick.” “Kung Fu Panda 4” is coming soon. Zimmer composed the music for the BBC documentary series “Planet Earth III” and also frequently takes part in smaller, independent productions. “New things are always interesting – and also working with new people and having the opportunity to try something out.”

It takes him longer to come up with new ideas these days

Is there ever a day when the Hollywood specialist has a blockage? “Weeks!” says Zimmer. “It’s getting more and more difficult because I’ve made so many films. And it takes longer and longer until you come up with an idea that works. But still – I’ll never change jobs.”

His enthusiasm resonates in almost every sentence from Hans Zimmer. “It gives me such joy to play or invent music,” he enthuses. “And it’s such a joy when all the musicians come in and we play. Someone then plays a wrong note and that’s a very interesting note. And somehow it takes us in a whole new direction and everyone joins in.”

As a musician, says Hans Zimmer, it’s not just about how well you play, but how well you listen. “It can be a bit pretentious what I say, but I have the feeling that it wouldn’t be so bad if the world learned a little to just listen to each other, like musicians do.”


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