‘Batman’ Nearly Caused Danny Elfman To Have A ‘Nervous Breakdown’

Danny Elfman sat down to chat with the New York Post ahead of his upcoming show at the Lincoln Center. He’ll be playing some his most memorable movie pieces with a full orchestra, many from his long-running partnership with Tim Burton. But according to Elfman, the relationship had a rocky beginning on Pee Wee’s Big Adventure because the composer “was hoping I didn’t ruin this guy’s movie.”

The Post interview dives through some of the memorable signposts in Elfman’s career, starting with Oingo Boingo and moving on to Batman. You would think the film would be a heroic triumph, but it turns out that it almost broke Elfman:

“Batman” was very stressful — almost nervous-breakdown stressful. All I had done up to then was quirky comedies. Nobody but Tim wanted me on the movie. I really had to prove myself. There was a desire to have me collaborate with Prince [who wrote additional music for the film], but I was not open to that.

He also revealed that a long running rumor relating to his work on The Simpsons theme song is true, noting that the work is still paying dividends today in the strangest way:

You also composed the theme to “The Simpsons” — allegedly in 15 minutes. Is that true?

It was probably about 30! I took a meeting with [show creator] Matt Groening, and by the time I got home, [the tune] was already in my head. It took a couple of hours to put together a demo, and the next day, I got a call saying “Yeah, that’s it!” I’ve written 95 hours of film score but if I died right now, that would be inscribed on my tombstone. Either that, or “D’oh!”

Does that irritate you?

Not at all. It was like winning the lottery. It’s kept me in health insurance to this very day, not because I wrote it, but because I sang “the Simpsons” at the start [of the song]. That got me into the Screen Actors Guild. Three syllables, 30 years of health insurance.

That’s not bad. Pretty good timing, too, considering both came out around the same time. I’d gladly have a nervous breakdown with guaranteed health insurance by my side. Fill me with meds and let me drool my month away.

(Via New York Post)