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Teletipo BSOSpirit

A morning at the phone with Patrick Doyle

Versión en español

Patrick Since he entered the business along with his friend Kenneth Branagh in Henry V he has given us a lot of wonderful scores to enjoy with. He's one of the most eclectic composers of his generation and every new score from his hand is like a gift to us score-geeks. In the wake of his last composition, Secondhand Lions, we took the serious challenge of getting what you're about to read done...and so we did. Full of the funniest anecdotes we have heard so far, this interview was a joy in the making. We would like to thank all the efforts done to get this interview done...thanks to Cathy Mouton, Maggie Rodford and Julia Lister...without your help this couldn't have been done.

Some time has passed since we did this interview, that's the reason why, although published now, you would not find any reference to Patrick's involvement in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Seville, one morning of a very atipical day. A not so distant bell rings...

Patrick Doyle (PD): Hello Sergio, how are you today?

BSOSpirit (BS): Hi Patrick, I'm fine, thanks, and you?
PD: I'm very well, thank you, looking forward to do this...

BS: Well, if you're looking forward to it, let's begin.
PD: Brilliant!

BS: I think we should begin with the films you've done with Kenneth Branagh, and I'm sure you have been asked this question a hundred did your relation with Kenneth begin?
PD: I was working as an actor in a play called "Man equals man" by Bertolt Brecht...and I was working there with a close friend of Kenneth who told him that I was an actor but also a was pure luck that Kenneth was scouting for a composer to his newly formed theatre company, Renaissance Feature we met and got along very well, and that was it... I wrote the music for one play, and decided I didn't want to act anymore; I was tired of it, and since I was a musician before an actor I could go back to my first love...

BS: And from working in the theatre you got to work in your first movie together, Henry V. We know that the "Non nobis Domine" theme was written before shooting and that Kenneth played it when the movie took place. Has this happened again in any of the movies you've done with him, for example in the creation scene of Frankenstein or the overture for Much Ado About Nothing? Henry V
PD: No, the creation scene in Frankenstein was the first major scene to be cut in the movie and did never change from its first incarnation, so I had a long time to study it and discuss with the sound effects people whether to write a music that would play around the sound effects, the banging and the I worked a long time to get every move in the music to fit perfectly with the picture (humming the Creation piece). For Much Ado I have written many of the main themes long before I started scoring the film and being in Tuscany made that process so intimate and easy...

BS: Given the closure of your relationship with Kenneth, does he give you any hindsight of the music he wants for the picture?
PD: No he's very specific about some things like melody and themes...for example in Hamlet, I had to play five different main themes to him until he was satisfied with one of them...then I went onto composing the rest of the score...but coming up with a main theme that he likes is always very difficult.

BS: And what would you say was the most difficult main theme to compose for him?
PD: I would probably say Hamlet...

BS: It is one of your most complex works... and I love it by the way...
PD: Thank you very much...

BS: Back to Henry V, what did you felt when Prince Charles, having loved the "Non Nobis Domine", approached you to compose "The Thistle and the Rose" to his Grandmother?
PD: There's a very funny story around that composition... if you want to hear it... of course.

BS: I'm all ears (laughs).
PD: (laughs) We were on holiday and the post arrived the postman told me "we need you to sign down here, there's a letter from Buckingham Palace..."

BS: Oh, my! (laughs)
PD: That was me! (laughs). All I could think was "I'm not the owner". Anyway, while reading it I was very flattered and very was a handwritten letter...and I was absolutely thrilled...

BS: And did you find any difficulties in composing that piece?
PD: Yeah, it was very, very difficult...we in the Renaissance Feature were world touring and it was a pity because I did not have time to see any of the places we went...I spend the entire trip composing the piece.

BS: Ok. Well there's one more thing about Henry V that I want to ask you. What truth lies in that you found your inspiration for "Non Nobis Domine" while being in the bathroom?
PD: (very seriously) All of it.

BS: (laughs) Really?
PD: Yeah. For the middle section of the theme I knew I had to have something very different than the rest. So, one evening I'm in the toilet, and while I'm doing it, something begins to hum in my mind (humming the central part of "Non Nobis Domine") ...and suddenly I was "please God do not allow to forget the theme" I finish my works in the toilet...and I wash my hands (laughs) ...I'm a very clean down the stairs...while my wife keep telling me "What are you doing running down the stairs?, come to bed! is midnight!"...and I'm like "I can't...I can't!" I get down and start to write the theme in my Filofax while it is strong in my head...and that was it.

BS: What a relief! (laughs)
PD: Yeah, a great one! (laughs). And that is not the only time this has happened to me...a lot of times, when I have been working during a very long time and I go to bed, when I'm more relaxed and tired...there, is where the best ideas come to me...

BS: The first thing I ever heard from you, and one of the first cd's I ever bought was "Dead Again". I love your music, and also the great film it accompanies. The final scene of the picture is the work of two geniuses, Kenneth at the images and you at the music. The overall atmosphere of that scene resembles that of Hitchcock and his way of filming. Did you have in mind that fact when composing Dead Again?Dead Again
PD: Nope...maybe subliminally, but not consciously...a lot of people sees that resemblance between me and Herrmann and I do suppose it has to do with the influence Slavic music has in my way of composing and so did in Bernard there you have the possible resemblance between our works. We both write in a very unambiguous way...

BS: Yeah, very directly...looking at your filmography you can find a lot of themes that are very direct, very primal if you like...
PD: I suppose so. Carlito's Way

BS: Well, you have "The Battle of Agincourt" in Henry V, the action cues of Dead Again, "The Creation" from Frankenstein...and of course "Central Station" from Carlito's Way. That tour de force theme is one, may I say, of your masterpieces... The thing is, did Brian suggested you something, or was it entirely your idea?
PD: No suggestion from Brian...

BS: No suggestion at all?
PD: None. The only thing Brian told me was "Get on with it!"...

BS: (laughs) Very direct!
PD: (laughs) Just that... "Get on with it!" He hires the composer to do his job. He's very direct and very confident in his movie come what may...

BS: That seems to fit perfectly with the tone of his movies...

BS: Moving forward a little in time, we arrive at the point when you are first nominated to an Oscar Award for the score to Sense and Sensibility...what remembrance do you have of this event?Sense and Sensibility
PD: By this time in my life I've done quite a few movies and when I was told that I was nominated I was surprised, but also very happy and thrilled to having been nominated for a score I was so proud of and in which I have worked so hard along Emma (Thompson) and Ang (Lee) it was a joy and extreme fun being in the huge party that followed the ceremony... But these things have to be taken as what they are, a by-product of your work ... If you take your profession as a way to get prizes, for me is as getting the car before the horse...if you know what I mean...

BS: Completely.

BS: Two of your collaborations with Kenneth, Hamlet and Frankenstein are among your most complex works in terms of orchestrations and the amount of characters involved in the story. How did you feel working in such films?
PD: During a long time in my life I played Osric in stage and in doing so I was very familiar with, not only the character, but with the whole play. I got very intimate with it playing every night, so when the time came to the film I instantly began working on what have to became the central piece of the score, which Kenneth loved...and also began to work on Ophelia's theme, which came to mind watching Kate (Winslet) during the shooting of one scene where she reads Hamlet's because I have lived such a long time with both the play and the film during its shooting, it was a question of how long would it take for me to come up with the score...and although finally it took me two months to physically put it into was a process that had begun many years before...

BS: And what about Frankenstein? Frankenstein
PD: Being a monster picture with so many dramatic twisting it was very difficult to come up with a score that underlining the essence of the novel (the dilemma between Victor and the Creature) didn't forget all the things that are happening around was also difficult because the cut of the picture was very slow and that made my job a very hard one.

BS: And for the scene when Victor and Elizabeth can finally be together in their honeymoon, did Kenneth suggest you something about the music?
PD: Not directly...both Kenneth and I love romance and the idea for that scene was to compose something like the Sleeping Beauty Waltz (humming the music), so that was what I had on mind when I finally came with what you've heard...a piece that was intended to heighten the romance...

BS: Another director whom with you has had a long term collaboration is Régis Warnier...
PD: Wonderful friend and director, is great to talk about him...

BS: Okay! You've worked with him in Indochine, Une Femme Française, East-West and are working now on his last film, Man to Man. Instead of comment specific scenes what can you tell us about the overall experience of working with him?...and what can you advance us of Man to Man?
PD: First thing I got to tell you is that, as Kenneth, Régis is a friend of the family and during the filming of Man to Man in Edinburgh, my daughter and I went visiting the coincidentally, the same big hall when Régis is planning to film is the hall when my daughter is graduating in Edinburgh College...I was a very special moment to have a great friend of my family working in such a near place...and for what refers to the movie I can tell you that this is an absolutely breathtaking's the work of a genius...and it's a joy for me to be working on this film...

BS: Have you written something yet?
PD: Nothing...but I'm dying to...this is the best thing he'd ever done...

BS: It seems to us that your work is always surrounded by the funniest anecdotes, what did happen when composing Indochine?
PD: I suppose you're referring to the Fisher-Price?

BS: Exactly!
PD: Well, I usually write music with pen and paper pouring the music in my Indochinehead...and I usually use a Sony recorder for my own purpose, to record the things I while I was preparing some things for Indochine to show to Régis, the recorder broke and I had no time to go out and buy another one... so there was this Fisher-Price toy around the house and I picked it up and recorded what I was working on in it...and it sounded awful... just awful... the toy was missing the cassette door and every time I pushed the record button I had to press the cassette manually...otherwise it would come off (laughing)...

BS: (laughs) In other words...a truly piece of junk...
PD: (laughs) The worst there is...anyway, when Régis came I hadn't realize what a shock this would be for a when entered the room, he told me "What is this?", and I was like "Oh, it's a Fisher-Price!!"...the situation was ridiculous...and then Régis told me "Are you telling me that the biggest movie ever in France, with the biggest score ever is being recorded on a Fisher-Price?"...and as the practical joker he is he told me "I want you record everything you compose in the toy and when you show it to the producers in France, I want you tell them that this has been recorded on a Fisher-Price", that I did! (laughs)

BS: (laughing strongly) I cannot believe it!
PD: And to this day I still have that Fisher-Price.

BS: But you aren't using it still, are you?
PD: No, of course not (laughs)...I have a much more expensive equipment now with computers and everything you can imagine...but I will keep the Fisher-Price forever. Little Princess

BS: I would like to talk about now about two of your collaborations with Alfonso Cuaron, I'm referring of course, to A Little Princess and Great Expectations. What can you tell us about your relation with Alfonso and the making of both soundtracks?
PD: Alfonso is a wonderful man and when he first showed me A Little Princess I realized what a glorious and gifted work it was...I was stunned by the camera movements, the editing, the acting ..and all of it coming from the same person, the director, the auteur...I was thrilled to actually going to work with him...and he loves music and likes very much to work with the composer as a team...he suggested to use a child voice for the film song and I showed him a demo with my daughter singing on it...and he instantly fell in love with her voice...but it actually took a long time for him to convince me to use my daughter...

BS: Why was that?
PD: It's very simple...I don't want my children to be part of my work, I want to keep them as far as I can from the movie although I agreed I didn't tell my daughter it awes her singing on the movie until it was premiered in Los Angeles.

BS: And how did she take it?
PD: Oh my God!, she was like "yahoooooo!!!!" (laughs)...I should have never done that...

BS: (laughs) Children are children.

Great Expectations

BS: In the other movie you did with him , Great Expectations, you used some electronics sounds that are not very usual in your music, why was that?
PD: In this case it was Alfonso who wanted to use pop-like music that was in accordance to the songs he was using in the was a very difficult process working with all the contemporary singers that were involved in the picture and at the same time trying to come up with music that was up to the the end the album did very well and I'm very proud of what the soundtrack ended up being.

BS: And what can you tell us about Amsterdam?
PD: (laughs) I knew you were going to ask me this...

BS: (laughs) Was it so obvious?
PD: (laughs) No, not at all...what happened was that one day Alfonso, he's a very funny man, told me "Come on Patrick, let's go to Amsterdam!"...and I was like "I cannot go, I've work to do and so"...and he was "Come on let's go have fun in Amsterdam (mimicking Alfonso's voice)" I went to my wife and told her "Dear, Alfonso wants to go to Amsterdam", and to my surprise she replied "Just go to have a boy's weekend"... so we went to Amsterdam and got into a music shop... and I started to play and he loved what I was playing, it was a very thrilling experience for him being there watching me playing the piano, for me it was very natural, but it was something totally new for was a wonderful weekend...

BS: The only animated movie you've worked on was Quest for Camelot, how was the experience of working in animation?Quest for Camelot
PD: I have always loved animation...I still can remember the first time I went to see Fantasia, I was 14 and fell in love with the interaction between the images and the classical music...

BS: Yeah, it's astounding.
PD: Yep, so for me writing the music for the movie was very special, and the main reason for it was that I wrote it while I was sick in the hospital, very very sick...but to my surprise, and that of the specialist that was treating me, the only thing I could do was write music...the doctor was in awe of my will and told me repeatedly that he had never seen someone in my condition able to do anything that required mental effort.

BS: And how long did it take you to write the score, given the state you were into?
PD: Well, bit by bit, 26 second one day, a minute the next took me 8 weeks, which is a very long time...

BS: A long time indeed. I must tell you that you had us fans very worried during the time you were in hospital, because there was so little information about what was really happening and we feared the worst. What can you tell us about this awful time in your life?
PD: Well, I had a thing called Acute Myeloid Leukaemia...this is a very virulent cancer of the blood, and my type did not allow to a bone marrow transplant, but a very, very aggressive chemotherapy...and although it's less aggressive here that in the US I have to tell you it's a very hard process...and Jose Carrera's example was very inspiring for me. We were friends since my times in stage and he was very supportive during all the process.

BS: And are you completely recovered from it?
PD: Yeah, completely... I go once a year for a blood test...but it took me five years to mentally and physically recover from it...

BS: That's a very long time...
PD: Yeah, but now I feel younger than I felt before getting ill...

BS: That must be a great feeling...
PD: Yeah, when the doctor's told me I had a 60 to 70% of survival all I thought of was the residual was a very bad time for me, that, thank God, it has passed...and there's one more thing I would like to say about the time I was ill if you don't mind...

BS: How could I?... Go ahead.
PD: Well I would like to thank all the Spanish fans for the support during that time...I still keep every single letter I received during those months and I'll never throw them was a great help for me knowing that so much people was worried...and I remember the walls of my hospital room covered floor to ceiling with hundreds of letters...thank you very much!

BS: That was the time when you couldn't came to the concert in Seville.
PD: Exactly, during the rehersal of that concert, Maggie called me and the choir was singing "Non Nobis Domine", and it made me cry so much...

BS: Fortunately you're here to tell and, well, you can always come back!!!(laughs)
PD: (laughs) I would love to.

BS: I will keep that in mind... He,he,he.
PD: Okay...(laughs) Bridget Jones Diary

BS: Before we reach your latest works I want to talk about something that sometimes the common fan keeps asking and nobody answers. Some of your recent works, and I'm talking about Bridget Jones' Diary, Killing me Softly o The Galindez File haven't been relased, at least not completely. What can you tell us about this practice?
PD: Well, the thing for these and other movies is that they are not big blockbuster pictures and it's very difficult for the record company to release a cd. The record industry is in very difficult times and they don't have the money they used to have...people are less committed into spending money...Galindez was not a very big movie, so the risk of releasing an album was enormous; and while Bridget Jones was a hit, the producers did not want a soundtrack cd to interfere with the release of the first song album...

BS: So, it is unlikely that we fans would ever hear those soundtracks...
PD: Well, the thing is I've talking to my manager and we're thinking of an auto-financed album containing those soundtracks...

BS: That would be great. Well, we're almost finishing the interview.
PD: (sadly speaking) Really?

BS: Yep, but before we end, I would very much like to talk about your latest work, Secondhand Lions.Secondhand Lions
PD: That's great!

BS: I must tell you that when I first heard it, you absolutely blew mind.
PD: Is that so?

BS: Yeah, I first heard long before I went to see the movie and I was very intrigued from that time until I went to the theatre...the music was so varied and changing that I couldn't figure out what kind of movie it was. What kind of collaboration did you have with Tim McCanlis?
PD: He's a wonderful year before I began scoring, he phoned me just when the shooting was starting, and from the very beginning he wanted me to do the score...he was very nice on the phone and he send the script right away...I fell in love with it first time I read it, and knew that this was going to be a very difficult one...this movie was going to demand every single previous experience that I have had scoring...

BS: Absolutely...there's like a million different styles in this soundtrack...
PD: Yeah, you have ethnic music, exotic music, action music, romance music, tender...

BS: Epic music...
PD: Lots of that...the movie stretched me in every direction, but I absolutely loved was a great challenge and a great joy to record it with the Bratislava Orchestra...which delivered a great performance...I'm sure you'll agree.

BS: Absolutely.
PD: It was a great fun working with Tim...he's such a passionate director...and I'm very proud of having worked with him.

BS: You must's one of your finest works.
PD: You're very kind.

BS: No, I mean it...the first time I played the cd I was in awe of the first notes (humming the theme).
PD: (humming at the same time).

BS: It reminded directly of Rozsa's Thief of Bagdad.
PD: Well it is very funny that you're telling me that, because when I first saw the movie and all the flashbacks, I thought "this movie needs music from the 40's...this movie needs music like that of Rozsa, Korngold, Steiner..." Goldspirit

BS: Well, if you're so proud of this work then I suppose you'll like to know what I'm going to tell you right now. Once a year in our website we make a poll among our readers in which they have to choose the best soundtrack in many categories, and this year Secondhand Lions won the award for Best Comedy.
PD: (very touched) Really?...oh, gosh, tell everyone that I'm so thrilled and flattered...thank you very much for this award...

BS: Thanks to you for giving us such wonderful deserve it.
PD: You're very kind...I'm very happy to hear that.

BS: Well, I think it should be great to end the interview with the funniest anecdote you can remember.
PD: It is too difficult to think of this...

BS: I have put you between the wall and the sword...(laughs)
PD: (laughs)Yeah, oh god...what can I tell?, what can I...oh yes!. I know. When we were dubbing Henry V the scene when the soundtrack has my voice singing "Non Nobis Domine" (singing).

BS: (singing at the same time).
PD: So...there I was in the sound cabin where we were dubbing the film, and one song has been in mind all day, that of Barry Manilow, "I wrote the song" (singing the song) I go to the toilet and while I'm in it an they're playing Non Nobis...I'm singing very very loud "I wrote the song that made the world sing!!!!!" (laughs)

BS: (strongly laughing)And they're hearing you?
PD: (laughs) I don't know...I'm all by myself singing (very loud)" I wrote the song that made the whoooleeee.....". So anyway, I come back from the toilet and the sound editors tell me "Okay Patrick, here is the scene dubbed"...and there it is my very loud voice singing "I wrote the song" while Kenneth is on screen reciting Shakespeare (strongly laughing).

BS: (strongly laughing, almost crying)That's hilarious!!!
PD: That is the funniest memory I have...Sergio, I must tell you that it's been great talking to you, this has been a great interview.

BS: For me too, it's been great, I hope one day we would do it again.
PD: I hope it too, take care and best luck to you and your website. Adiós!

BS: You too take care. Bye!

Interview Carried by Sergio Benítez
Questions by Óscar Giménez and Sergio Benítez

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