Harry Gregson-Williams Q&A: ‘Confirmation’ composer
“When I read the script, I thought, this is strange, it can’t be true,” revealed composer Harry Gregson-Williams as we chatted via webcam (watch above) about the telefilm “Confirmation.” This acclaimed HBO film recounts the events of 1991 when Anita Hill (Kerry Washington) accused Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas (Wendell Pierce) of sexual harassment. She had worked for him at both the Department of Education and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
This Golden Globe nominated composer of “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” (2005) moved to America in 1995. “I did my research,” he says, “to find out if the film was really telling the facts how they were.” As he discovered, “what shocked me mostly was the way she was treated, the way this court was set up.” He was also shocked to learn that Joe Biden “presided over this kangaroo court” as Senate Judiciary Committee chair.
He praised the script for not passing judgement. “It doesn’t tell you what to think at all,” he explained. “It just lays the facts out, and it stays fairly neutral. Clarence has his moment, Anita has her moment, and the shocking thing about it all was how it unraveled, and how Clarence sits on the Supreme Court today, despite what was said at the time.” To that end, Gregson-Williams composed “clearly delineated themes.” As he clarifies, “Often, as a film composer, one can push things one way or the other. Despite what’s going on onscreen, one can push the audience towards a certain emotion. It was my job on this particular score not to do that, but to try and reflect their genuine characteristics.”
And with an ongoing controversy over another Supreme Court vacancy, the timing of “Confirmation” couldn’t be more perfect. “It’s relevant today to revisit that,” he says, “and for people like myself, who didn’t know anything about it, to have their attention drawn to it.” He adds with a laugh, “The only thing that might’ve made it cooler was if Joe Biden had decided to run for President. I was really hoping he would.”