The latest in Variety‘s series of Billion Dollar Composers (so-called because the aggregate box-office of all their movies exceeds $1 billion) is Englishman Henry Jackman, whose music you may know from the last two Captain America movies — but who may be an awards contender for his music for the upcoming The Birth of a Nation. Jackman is a unique blend of highly trained classical composer and former pop/rock producer, and his thoughts on film music in the 21st century are fascinating. During preparation of the main story and this sidebar on eight of his most interesting scores, I also interviewed Captain America directors Anthony and Joe Russo, Birth of a Nation director Nate Parker, Jack Reacher director Ed Zwick and The Interview co-director Seth Rogen (who, predictably, offered the funniest line in either story).
The first of my online video interviews for SoundWorks Collection this year is with composer Henry Jackman, whose massive, muscular score is helping to drive Captain America: Civil War to the top of the summer box office. Jackman is a smart, funny, classically educated Englishman whose additional experience in pop music has helped to make him a bankable composer for such A-list movies as Wreck-It-Ralph and Big Hero 6. His earlier Marvel movies included X-Men: First Class and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Our lengthy conversation took place in his Santa Monica studio and is punctuated with the composer playing his themes at the piano as well as plenty of behind-the-scenes footage.
Every year we try and assess who has the best shot at a nomination for the original-score Oscar. Eight of the 12 profiles in this year’s Variety Oscar-music section are mine: Marco Beltrami, Danny Elfman, Michael Giacchino, Jonny Greenwood, Henry Jackman, Clint Mansell, Thomas Newman and Steven Price. (Colleague Tim Greiving penned the other four: Hans Zimmer, James Newton Howard, Gary Yershon, Mark Mothersbaugh.) Tim and I also collaborated on this year’s overview of Best Song possibilities.
Every year at Oscar time, Variety asks me (and other writers) to talk to score composers who are in the running for awards. This season, it was Alexandre Desplat (for Philomena), Mark Orton (Nebraska) and John Williams (The Book Thief). Earlier in the season I interviewed Henry Jackman (Captain Phillips), Nicholas Britell (the period source music in 12 Years a Slave), Daniel Pemberton (The Counselor) and, of course, Hans Zimmer (Rush and 12 Years a Slave).