Former leader of Oingo Boingo, Daniel Robert Elfman (born May 29, 1953) 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 show (IRIS, 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 (the closest being his score for Spider-Man 2 being extensively rewritten and altered without his permission).
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", amusingly. 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)
- Most of Tim Burton's films (exceptions are Ed Wood and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street):
- Pee-wee's Big Adventure
- Batman (1989) and Batman Returns
- Edward Scissorhands
- The Nightmare Before Christmas
- Also provides the singing voice for Jack Skellington and both speaking and singing voices of Barrel and the Clown with the Tear-Away Face.
- Mars Attacks!
- Sleepy Hollow
- Planet of the Apes (2001)
- Big Fish
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
- Also provides the singing voices for the Oompa Loompas.
- Corpse Bride
- Also provides the speaking and singing voice for Bonejangles.
- 9 - Burton produced but did not direct; Elfman did the themes for this one, but not the score itself.
- Alice in Wonderland (2010)
- Dark Shadows
- Frankenweenie (2012 remake)
- Big Eyes
- Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
- Dumbo (2019)
- 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
- Charlotte's Web (2006)
- Wanted (where he even sings rock again)
- Hellboy II: The Golden Army
- 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
- Fifty Shades of Grey
- Avengers: Age of Ultron (with Brian Tyler)
- Justice League
Elfman also composed the theme music for:
- Desperate Housewives (Emmy winner)
- Batman: The Animated Series (adapted from his music for the 1989 film)
- Beetlejuice (animated version; also adapting his own work)
- The Simpsons (Emmy nominee - but amazingly not a winner)
- Sledge Hammer!
- Tales from the Crypt
- The Flash (1990). Faster tempo, but otherwise a near carbon-copy of "Batman" (the same could be said of the series)
- Dilbert (adapted from his music for Forbidden Zone)
- According to a radio interview, this was done without his knowledge or input (though he didn't seem to mind).
- Point Pleasant
Elfman also has a cameo in a film he didn't score, Sam Raimi's The Gift (2000) (done by Christopher Young), he also appears as himself with his band Oingo Boingo in the classic 1986 comedy Back to School.