Since beginning his career in France in 1985, Alexandre Desplat has scored 150 films including two Best Picture winners. His first Golden Globe nomination came in 2004 for Girl with a Pearl Earring, and he won that same accolade in 2007 for The Painted Veil. That same year, Desplat received his first Oscar nomination for The Queen, and has since been Oscar-nominated for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The King’s Speech, and Argo. Other recent credits include Zero Dark Thirty, The Tree of Life, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Parts 1 and 2. Desplat has become the composer of choice for numerous acclaimed filmmakers, having scored multiple films for Wes Anderson (Moonrise Kingdom), Roman Polanski (The Ghost Writer), and George Clooney (the upcoming The Monuments Men).
One of Desplat’s most consistent collaborations has been with Oscar-nominated filmmaker Stephen Frears, which has included The Queen, Cheri, and Tamara Drew. Frears’ latest film, Philomena, finds Desplat back in the Oscar race, along with star Judi Dench (Shakespeare in Love), and co-star and co-writer Steve Coogan (Tropic Thunder). Philomena recounts the true story of journalist Martin Sixsmith (Coogan) helping the title character (Dench) find her long-lost son, which may involve uncovering one or more horrible secrets being tightly guarded by the convent where Philomena was held captive after becoming pregnant as a teenager.
I recently had the pleasure of talking with Desplat about his collaboration with Frears and their latest film. Here’s what Desplat shared with me about finding the themes for this unique film, recording at Abbey Road Studios, and working with the some of the best musicians in the world on Philomena.