At his studio in Santa Monica — an elegantly designed mélange of deep oaks and dark reds –composer Hans Zimmer — recounts the story of how longtime collaborator Christopher Nolan first pitched him the idea for “Interstellar.” “We try to make life interesting for each other,” he said, “it’s part of our friendship. I ran into Chris somewhere … and he said to me, ‘if he were to write one page of something and not tell me what the grand subject was, would I give him one day and write whatever came to me from this one page?’ Sounds like a good adventure. Of course I said ‘yes.’”
He continues, “I opened the letter on a Sunday, and there was this beautiful, type-written piece of paper – quite thick paper, so I knew…it was strictly for me – and in it was this fable…a personal letter to me…about a parent and their child – thinly disguised as well, him knowing my son Jake – about a father and his scientist son. Little did I know he was going to turn it into a daughter,” he chuckles.
“I sat down and wrote this very personal piece really about my own son, phoned Chris up at about 9:30 at night and said, ‘I’ve done it, should I send it over?’ He said, ‘can I come down?’ The only time I really reveal myself – I feel exposed and fragile – is if I were to play you a piece of music for the first time. The greater the trust I have of the director, the more intimate and personal the piece is going to be. So I had this really fragile piece I was going to play to Chris, and I get to the end and sort of sheepishly go, ‘what do you think? Is it alright?’ And he pauses and goes, ‘suppose I’d better make the movie now.’ And I say, ‘well what is the movie?’”
The film encompasses both the epic vastness of space and the tender intimacy of the human heart in its story of a man (Matthew McConaughey) tasked with saving the human race while trying to make it back home to his daughter (Jessica Chastain).
For Zimmer and Nolan, it presented an opportunity to try something totally different from their previous collaborations on the “Dark Knight” trilogy. “I don’t think people really realize it was 10 years of our lives: that’s a large chunk of life, where we had sort of forged this tone, this musical vocabulary, and it was dark, and it was constantly looking inwards, and I remember Chris saying, ‘on this one, let’s look outwards!’”
Zimmer won an Oscar for his work on “The Lion King” (1994), and reaped his 10th nomination for “Interstellar.” He’s currently ranked in third by our experts and has odds of 16/1 to win a Best Score bookend. After watching the full interview, make your own predictions in this race using our easy drag-and-drop menu below and compete to win our contest prize of $1,000.