When I'm writing music, so much of the time I feel like I'm being pulled around by a big dog. I've got the dog on a leash and sometimes I'm leading this dog along just where I want it to go. And then sometimes the dog gets real big and starts yanking me. I think when I'm reacting the way I should be, I let the thing yank me around. Because it yanks me into places where I wouldn't go. And I look at it and go, "Oh! Thanks, boy! It's a strange place, but there had to be a reason why I went here, so I'm just going to leave it."
Former leader of Oingo Boingo
, Danny Elfman first broke into film scoring with Pee Wee's Big Adventure
. Since then, he has worked steadily in Hollywood (most notably for Tim Burton
), composing scores and themes for movies, TV, and even video games and a Cirque du Soleil
, a 2011 show inspired by the history of cinema).
An excerpt from his main title for Sommersby
was later adopted by Regency Enterprises (the company that produced the film) for its logo; on the other hand, Elfman wrote the logo music for Hollywood Pictures
several years before he did his only feature score for the company (1995's Dead Presidents
Like John Williams
, Elfman tends to compose classical, Romantically-themed music reminiscent of Bernard Hermann, although Elfman makes more limited use of Leitmotif
and his music tends to have darker overtones — which seem to mesh well with Tim Burton's films, although he also has a penchant for Duke Ellington-style Jazz. Again like John Williams, Elfman is one of the few major Hollywood film composers who has never had a score thrown-out (although that doesn't mean they've been untampered with - see Spider-Man 2
His scores are frequently used in trailers
He's married to Bridget Fonda, and they have a son together named Oliver, which in old English means "Elf Army"
. He also has two daughters, Lola and Mali, from previous relationships.
Films scored by Elfman include (but are certainly not limited to):
- Forbidden Zone (1980)
- Pretty much all of Tim Burton's films (exceptions are Ed Wood and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street):
- Weird Science (1985) (theme song only; but Elfman did score a film for John Hughes, Flubber)
- Big Top Pee-wee (1988 - without Burton, and with different themes)
- Nightbreed (1990)
- Little Demons (a project that, for whatever reason, was never completed; however the soundtrack, or at least parts of it, are available on YouTube.)
- Darkman (1990)
- Black Beauty (the 1994 movie adaptation)
- Mission: Impossible (1996)
- A Simple Plan
- Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2 (Christopher Young scored the third film using Elfman's themes - along with Elfman cues from the first two and assistance from John Debney and Deborah Lurie)
- And before that, he contributed a track to Army of Darkness, the "March of the Dead".
- Spy Kids (with John Debney, Robert Rodriguez and loads of others)
- Hulk (2003)
- The Men In Black films
- Fable (a video game)
- Meet the Robinsons
- Charlottes Web (2006)
- Wanted (where he even sings rock again)
- Terminator Salvation
- Kick-Ass (one track!)
- The Wolfman (2010)
- Real Steel
- Oz: The Great and Powerful (reuniting with Sam Raimi after a brief falling out over Spider-Man 2)
- Mystic Manor (A Hong Kong Disneyland variation of The Haunted Mansion)
- Epic (formerly Leafmen)
- Silver Linings Playbook
- American Hustle (a very, very brief score)
- Mr. Peabody & Sherman
: Although Elfman was originally signed to score The Hunger Games
, a scheduling conflict led to him being replaced by James Newton Howard; Elfman never wrote any music for the project.
Elfman also composed the theme music for:
Elfman also has a cameo
in a film he didn't score, Sam Raimi
's The Gift
(done by Christopher Young).