Alexandre Desplat on winning a Grammy and the lesson of masters like John Williams

Nine Oscar seasons ago, composer Alexandre Desplat earned what already felt like an overdue first nomination for “The Queen.” (He already had “Girl With a Pearl Earring,” “Birth,” “Syriana” and “The Painted Veil” to his credit.) Eight years and as many Oscar nominations later, the prolific Desplat has cemented himself as the go-to composer of his generation, with the hottest producers and directors clamoring to collaborate with him.

This is not surprising, given his talent and his extraordinary knowledge of both world cinema and world music. This year, he is a double Oscar nominee for “The Grand Budapest Hotel” and “The Imitation Game” and has already won a British Academy Award and a Grammy for the former. And that elusive first Oscar may well be within his grasp.

HitFix recently caught up with Desplat to discuss Anderson's latest melancholic comic romp and the awards success he has experienced of late. Check out the back and forth below.


HitFix: What's it like to be a double Oscar nominee for the first time?

Alexandre Desplat: It was unpredictable and is incredible, especially after so many nominations in a short period of time because I think this is my eighth nomination in eight years. I was a bit shocked but very happy and honored. It's sometimes hard to believe but your work being recognized by the Academy is wonderful. And I hope we continue!

Let's talk about “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” At what stage did you come aboard?

I read the script very early on and then Wes went shooting the film. When it was almost put together, he showed it to me and I began composing.

You've collaborated with him a number of times. How did you approach the work this time?

Because it was my third film with Wes, we had already set kind of a tone in the way we had worked before – very light orchestration, trying to find the sounds that would belong to the film. Very early on this one, we discussed sounds of Middle Europe and how we could go away from using strings and woodwinds. We started putting together this incredible band and it creates a special sound…the sound of the “Grand Budapest.”