On the heels of receiving a
Golden Globe Nomination for Best Dramatic Score for his work for NARNIA:
THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE, Tracksounds is able to speak with
composer, Harry Gregson-Williams about his epic score, working with
director Andrew Adamson, and even the influence (or lack thereof) of
Howard Shore's work for THE LORD OF THE RINGS.
certainly respect Howard Shore and he certainly did a good job, but
it was never on my mind (when scoring Narnia). I never thought I
want to do this or that like him. I'm just not familiar enough with
what he did actually."
CC:How much did your previously working
relationship with director Adamson
have to do with your involvement
with this project?
HGW: It had
everything to do with it!
CC: So was anyone else even
considered to score the film?
HGW: No. He
asked me to do it a long time ago.
CC: What did you do to prepare for
HGW: Well when
he asked I had three or four movies
to do before I got to NARNIA,
actually. That included KINGDOM OF
HEAVEN which was a huge effort for
me at the time. I did re-read the
book and read his (Andrew Adamson's)
script, but there wasn't much else I
could do at that time since he
(Adamson) had a long shoot to go
through in New Zealand.
CC: How was this project different
from working with Adamson on SHREK
and SHREK 2?
HGW: Well first
in regards to the two SHREK films,
while he was the lead director, he
certainly wasn't the only director
or the producer. For NARNIA he was
the director and one of the
producers. So he had a huge
responsibility and NARNIA, of
course, is a live-action film...and
this was the first time he had
directed a film like that. So the
experience for him, I think, was
very different. Consequently, the
film is so different from the two
SHREK films. There weren't actually
too many similarities between the
Shrek films and NARNIA projects
other than that we are both the same
two people. We two have those
experiences together, an
understanding, and a
friendship...and that will help in
It is much more
difficult to jump onto a film with a
director that you have never worked
with before. Having worked with
Adamson before and moving onto
NARNIA together is what I'd called
an ideal scenario. Of course, it
doesn't make it any easier...by the
way! The man (Adamson) is still hard
CC: I assume, then, he was even more
involved than he was in SHREK films
in regards to the score.
musically, but in contrast to the
two SHREK films which had 45 minutes
of score and 70 minutes of score
respectively, it was clear that this
project would have about twice that
CC: ...And no John Powell or other
collaborator on this one!
that's true, but I was sure to leave
myself enough time to work on it.
CC: You said you read the book
again. How big of a role did that
play in regards to you developing
themes and melodies for the film or
the musical palette of the score?
HGW: Not too
much actually, because although the
movie is a pretty faithful
adaptation of the book, it is quite
different in many ways. It wasn't
until I saw the first cut of the
movie, where I could see the look of
it, the look of the characters. I
found that what I felt emotionally,
when compared to the book, was quite
different and it was then at that
point that I could really "get under
the skin" of the project. That said,
it was great to have re-read the
book and to have gotten into that
headspace. Now the script also
provided a lot of good information
because, of course there were scenes
in the script that weren't even in
CC: Now, I'll ask a question that
I'm sure many film music fan's have
thought about. Inevitably, people
are going to compare what Howard
Shore did for THE LORD OF THE RINGS
trilogy and what Harry Gregson-Williams
has done for NARNIA.
HGW: What was
that like, by the way?
CC: The score for THE LORD OF THE
Nothing really stuck out to me. I
doubt really recall any of the
different themes or different
textures. I think he used a lot of
brass or something? Since I don't
own any of the soundtracks to those
movies, they certainly weren't my
starting point or my finishing
point. I certainly respect Howard
Shore and he certainly did a good
job, but it was never on my mind. I
never thought I want to do this or
that like him. I'm just not familiar
enough with what he did actually.
CC: I see! So you were being
facetious about not knowing much
about Howard Shore's score!
HGW: Ha! No.
Not at all!
CC: Now with your background in
teaching music to young people, it
must have thrilled you to have been
a part of bringing one of the most
famous and beloved stories of the
20th century to the big screen.
Absolutely! I consider myself
incredibly fortunate and hopefully I
have been able to deliver a
combination of everything I've
learned thus far. Of course, I don't
profess to know it all and am still
traveling along that "learning
curve," but this has been precisely
the sort of film I'd want to "knock
out of the park."
CC: ...and I'd say you've done that.
Would you say NARNIA, or KINGDOM OF
HEAVEN, or perhaps some other
project was a "turning point" in
HGW: Well, no,
Chris, you see I never really think
of what I do as a "career." I sort
of fell into film scoring
accidentally. It wasn't something I
studied to do or intended to have
CC: Would you say then that projects
like NARNIA or KINGDOM OF HEAVEN are
allowing you to move into places you
have previously not been able to
spend a lot of time...namely
predominately orchestral scores?
HGW: No. Not at
all actually. While writing for and
standing up in front of an orchestra
is truly an amazing thing, I do like
variety in my work. so I don't plan
to limit myself in any way. For me
it has always been about the project
and what the possibilities are
within that project. You know, I
wouldn't want to spend the next five
years writing a score for a film
like PHONEBOOTH again and again and
again, but at that moment, it was
fascinating to me. Whether I write
for an orchestra or down a different
path, writing something that is
purely electronic, they both present
different challenges, enormous,
musical conundrums. I think that is
what I find fascinating and
terrifying all at once.
CC: Now you have been nominated for
a Golden Globe Award. Are you
excited about that and do you plan
HGW: I think
so, but I don't really know when it
CC: How did you find out that you
had been nominated?
HGW: My agent
phoned me up early one day...and it
just happened to be my
I could think was, "What the hell
important that someone had to
call and wake me up." It took me a
while to even figure out what he was
CC: Now, are you going to be
involved with any sequels?
HGW: Well, I
just talked to Andrew Adamson, who
was just tired as a dog, by the way,
and were going to meet up in the
very near future and I guess we'll
CC: Well, I'm quite sure that the
fanbase will be excited to see and
hear more from the land of NARNIA.
Thank you so much for you time and
good luck on your upcoming projects!
HGW: Thank you, Chris.