Hollywood’s most sought-after composers is Harry Gregson-Williams. He composed both for The Equalizer 1 and 2. His work allows one to gravitate emotionally to the scenes in The Equalizer 2. In addition to composing for this film, Gregson-Williams has a line of work with other movies. Some of these movies include all four installments of Shrek, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, The ZooKeeper’s Wife, The Town, Gone Baby Gone, Man on Fire, and more. Gregson-Williams discusses with ATM about film scoring for The Equalizer 2, The Meg, and his recent Emmy nomination for Outstanding Music Composition for a Limited Series, Movie, or Special.
Gregson-Williams has been surrounded around music since an earlier age. Composing music is a way for him to express himself. “What does working
as a composer mean to you?” He says, “It means everything to me. It is my whole life. I have not done anything else for the less 20 years. I have only produced children. I have five.” The famed composer grew up in a musical family. ‘“I went to music school on a scholarship. Later, I worked with Hans Zimmer. We got along very well. He invited me to Los Angeles to give it a go. These were his exact for words, “Give it a go.” At this point, composing for a film was something I never worked in. I had never considered writing music for a film. It was not until I saw the amount of fun he had. I am still giving it a go. I have just worked on The Equalizer 2 and The Meg. They are very much different. This movie is currently out. You work on a score for three to four months. The Meg is a symphonic score. It is a big symphony orchestra playing. I am composing on a Disney film that releases earlier next year called Penguin. This is a beautiful nature and wildlife film. These projects keep me on my feet and interested.”’
The Equalizer 2 composer recounts how it felt winning a scholarship that has shaped him into the man he has become today. “Describe what went through your head as a seven-year-old auditioning and also winning the scholarship to attend music school?” He says, ‘“It was a very severe audition. There were hundreds of boys who auditioned. My audition took place while at the age of six. I sang and played an instrument at my audition. I could see my mother in the audience mouthing as it was my turn to stand in front of the music professors, she said, “Come on Come on. I felt like a lucky guy.”’ Some of his musical talents has spilled over into his children. His oldest daughter has been studying music since she was a little girl.
Gregson-Williams also composed the score for The Equalizer 2. He talks about the difference between the two. “The Equalizer 2 has a more emotional storyline. The director Antoine Fuqua was sitting in my studio. There is a scene where Denzel’s character is trying to save this young boy from the criminality and drugs. This is not the focus of the film, but it shows the humanitarian side of his character. He actually cares about what is going on. Denzel is yelling in this poor boy’s face trying to make him understand he has a choice to not go down the road of drugs and guns. Director told me this scene was the reason Denzel wanted to do this story. This scene means something to him. Denzel is a good man. Isn’t he? “Yes, he is.” This scene is very different than what I wrote for the first film. Music is so subjective.”
The young music scholarship winner shares how he views music compared to someone else. ‘“If we were sitting in my studio, then I would play you a piece of music that is really tense and has a lot feeling in it. You might say you do not feel this. If the director is not feeling it, then you cannot sit there and say, “Well I am.’’ This is a collaborative process.”’ Additionally, Gregson-Williams expresses the times when he composes the most. “I tend to compose a little in the morning and at night when the kids are asleep. I am like an owl. “You are nocturnal?” Yes, I am. He tells us about the challenges that go into composing for films. “Composing is more than just knocking out the music. Whoever thinks this should find another job. You get things handled back with red marks. Kind of like homework.”
Gregson-Williams talks about his recent Emmy nomination for the upcoming 70th Emmy Awards. “Grateful. (Laughs). I am a film composer who dabbled in television. I got really lucky for pretty much my first work on T.V. I am a little bit of an imposter. (Laughs). Thank you to the Academy.” The first time Emmy-nominee has work that spans over more than 20 years. He has scored for the Solid video game franchise and for Call of Duty. Additionally, Gregson-Williams composed for the first computer-generated animation from Dreamworks, Antz. His delivery and contribution to the film industry is very an exquisite talent. The Equalizer 2 is currently in theaters. The Meg releases in theaters August 10th, and Disney’s Penguins releases in theaters early 2019.