Alexandre Desplat Q&A: ‘The Secret Life of Pets’ composer
“I always dreamed of scoring an animation film where I could bring all of these memories back” admits acclaimed composer Alexandre Desplat during our recent webcam chat (watch above) about this year’s blockbuster “The Secret Life of Pets.” He drew on his love of animation from his youth in bringing his jazz-tinged score to life.
“The Secret Life of Pets” gives audiences a gorgeously rendered and at times hilarious glimpse into what our beloved pets get up to when their owners head off to work each day. It features the voices of revered comedians like Louis C.K., Eric Stonestreet, Kevin Hart and Albert Brooks and is brought to life by director Chris Renaud and the team from Illumination Entertainment. They also brought us animation heavyweights like “Despicable Me,” spin-off “Minions” and the Dr. Seuss adaptation of “The Lorax.”
As one of the most prolific and acclaimed composers working today, the challenge for Desplat on “Pets” was to create a score that audiences aren’t usually accustomed to when they sit down to watch an animated feature. In combining eclectic jazz elements with more traditional orchestral elements, Desplat was however wary of taking it too far in one direction. He says, “The range of possibility that it gives can also be a danger, because you don’t want the music to be too sarcastic or comedic or too obvious. But, by having all of these tools, like the big band and the full orchestra, you can play with the colors, as I like to do, in a very subtle way.”
Desplat is a firm believer in working closely with the director and developing a relationship of trust, which was certainly the case for this project. “Confidence,” Desplat says without hesitation, when identifying what director Renaud brought to the table. “He offered his confidence, which is very important. He spent many years on this project and then here’s comes the composer who spends maybe two months, and can completely mess up the process. So when the director trusts you and you feel that you are pursuing the same goals, everything was fine, and Chris was ready to hear different ideas that I would suggest, right or wrong. …He has an open mind. When a director doesn’t have this, your life is a bit more miserable.
Desplat also shares his thoughts on how film fans tend to revere film composers and loyally follow them throughout their careers. He also relives his recent Oscar win for “The Grand Budapest Hotel” and gives us a sneak peak into his current project, Luc Besson‘s highly anticipated “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.”