Composer Patrick Doyle: The RT Interview
The Harry Potter and Henry V scorer reminisces.Patrick Doyle may be best known to younger audiences for his score to 2005's Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, but the composer started his career with Kenneth Branagh providing the score for Henry V and beginning a collaboration that would see him deliver music for Branagh films through to this year's As You Like It and Sleuth.
Away from Branagh, the composer has scored films like Brian De Palma's Carlito's Way, Mike Newell's Donnie Brasco and Alfonso Cuaron's Great Expectations.
On January 6th the London Symphony Orchestra hosts a concert of film music selections, including some of Doyle's, at the Barbican Hall, and Doyle and fellow composer David Arnold will be in attendance. Ahead of the event, in an exclusive interview, RT caught up with Doyle to find out more about his career.
How did you get started in the industry?
Patrick Doyle: My first job was with Kenneth Branagh in theatre, our relationship started with the Renaissance Theatre Company for their 1987 tour of the UK. I wrote music for their productions like Hamlet, As You Like It, Look Back in Anger. I became his film composer off the back of that. He asked me to write his score for Henry V in 1989 and that's how my career in film music started.
I understand you started off as an actor.
PD: Well, I qualified from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and got a degree in music. A friend of mine at the drama college, which was in the same building, asked me to write music for a play she was putting on and appear in it too, a bit like Dudley Moore I suppose. I studied singing at the Academy of Music and learnt a bit about performance there. After that I was asked to do a play which was very successful and I met Robbie Coltrane on that.
I decided, actually before I met Kenneth Branagh, that I wanted to get back to music. So it was quite coincidental actually, because having decided I wanted to do music we started working together.
Your relationship with him is more prolific than any other working relationship you've had, how is it to work with him?
PD: Oh it's fantastic, hilarious, there's never a dull a moment. He's so sharp, so bright, so intelligent, so kind and so generous. All this annoying press he gets is infuriating because I know him very well and he just doesn't deserve it.
Many people discovered your music recently through your score to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. What was that like?
PD: It was extraordinary and it was great to work with Mike Newell again. I'd worked with the producer David Barron before, though not with David Heyman. I'd worked with Mike Newell on Into the West and Donnie Brasco.
John Williams wasn't available and initially the request was that I'd be working with John's material so I was a little hesitant. In the end it was just the Hedwig's Theme that I bought over. It was an honour to follow in the footsteps of such a great composer. If it had been non-stop thematic work it would have been a different story, but it was a very dark film, much darker than the previous ones, and I was able to address elements like Voldemort which kept things fresh. It was ultimately an opportunity for me to make my own stamp on this particular storyline.
There's a great tradition of composers working on other composers' material, so it was a great honour to work with John Williams' themes.
Of course, if nothing else, had I not done it my kids would have killed me!
It seems to be the case that the producers of Potter are keen that the creators they bring on board are free to leave their own mark on the franchise.
PD: Oh absolutely, all the people involved were exciting. It was a legend and an honour. David Heyman is lovely in that sense.
Also, Mike's very strong and direct and I love all that. He was open for all sorts of try-this, try-that. I was available on and off for a year and so I was able to give him various options and really experiment and that really helped.