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Over the past 25 years, Los Angeles native and resident Danny Elfman has established himself as one of film’s leading composers.
His previous collaborations with Milk director Gus Van Sant were on To Die For and Good Will Hunting, the latter of which brought Mr. Elfman his first Academy Award nomination; he has been nominated twice more, for Barry Sonnenfeld’s Men in Black and Tim Burton’s Big Fish, which was his first project with Milk producers Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen. The latter also earned him a Golden Globe Award nomination.
Movie audiences worldwide have heard the composer’s unique sound and style with some four dozen film scores. His signature scores include ones for Tim Burton’s Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, Beetlejuice, Batman,and Edward Scissorhands, among their many movies together; Henry Selick’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, which brought Mr. Elfman his first Golden Globe Award nomination; Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man; Taylor Hackford’s Dolores Claiborne; Martin Brest’s Midnight Run; Jon Amiel’s Sommersby; the Hughes Brothers’ Dead Presidents; and Rob Marshall’s Academy Award-winning Chicago.
Television audiences worldwide can instantly identify his theme music for The Simpsons and Desperate Housewives, for which he was honored with an Emmy Award nomination and win, respectively. He has been nominated for a Grammy Award eight times.
Mr. Elfman’s first experience in performing and composition was for a French theatrical troupe, Le Grand Magic Circus, at the age of 18. The following year, he collaborated with his brother Richard performing musical theatre on the streets of California. He then worked with a “surrealistic musical cabaret” for six years, using this outlet to explore multifarious musical genres. For seventeen years, he wrote and performed with the rock band Oingo Boingo, producing such hits as “Weird Science” and “Dead Man’s Party.”
His first composition for ballet, entitled “Rabbit and Rogue,” had its American Ballet Theatre (ABT) world premiere at the Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center in New York City this past June. The ballet was choreographed by Twyla Tharp and commissioned by ABT.
In addition to Milk, Mr. Elfman’s other 2008 film scores included Timur Bekmambetov’s Wanted; Guillermo del Toro’s Hellboy II: The Golden Army; and the documentary Standard Operating Procedure, directed by Errol Morris.