Composer Hans Zimmer was 'worried' about working on the score for 12 Years A Slave

The award-winning musician spoke about the score for the brutal film and working with Pharrell on The Amazing Spider-Man 2

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The Independent Culture

He has written scores for nearly all the best films made over the past 30 years, from Rain Man to The Dark Knight trilogy and everything in between, but even Oscar-winning composers have doubts sometimes.

Hans Zimmer has admitted that he was concerned while working on the music for 12 Years A Slave.

Speaking to The Independent, Zimmer said: “I started to feel really worried that I was up to the task. Was I the right guy? All those sort of doubts.

“All artists are forever besieged by doubt but I think the moment you lose the doubt, you lose the edge.”

The hard-hitting slave drama from British director Steve McQueen told the real-life story of Solomon Northup, who was kidnapped and enslaved in the Deep South in America in the Nineteenth Century.

“Steve [McQueen] was very strong with me about it. ‘It’s about human beings, it’s about all of us, get on with it’,” Zimmer added.

He described it as an “extraordinary project” to work on if difficult.

“The film is fairly grim. […]  You sit every day in front of some really disturbing images. The only way you can get through it is gather your friends around you.

“In my case that was Steve McQueen, Joe Walker the editor and my musicians.”

The drama is one of three films the German-born composer has worked on that have gone on to win the Academy Award for Best Picture.

12 Years A Slave involved a lot of discussion between the composer and the director, and Zimmer says that he tried to act as a “bridge to the now” for the audience.

“I have to be the door that opens a crack that lets us in […] and make it relevant.”

But never one to rest on his laurels, Zimmer has also composed music for the score of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, on which he worked with producer Pharrell Williams.

Noting that he has “never worked” with Pharrell, he jokes: “I think we just amuse each other. We get into a room and we’re trying to be sensible and within five minutes, we’re full of ideas and somebody is going to clean up the mess we have afterwards, of all these ideas suddenly pouring out.”

Zimmer is known for his innovative scores, which combine orchestral music with electronic sounds, and while working on a track for Jamie Foxx’s villain in the superhero drama, the pair ended up creating an “opera”, swinging from Rock and Roll to the pieces of classical composer Henry Purcell.

The composer enlisted Pharrell to work The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and it seems that they have become firm friends, so much so that, on a Reddit question and answer session back in January, Zimmer said that he wanted Pharrell to write the soundtrack to his life.

They also appeared together on the American late-night show Saturday Night, with Zimmer conducting the orchestra while Pharrell sang his hit song Happy.

‘12 Years A Slave’ is released on Blu-ray and DVD on 12 May