Alexandre Desplat

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Alexandre Desplat
Alexandre Desplat
Background information
Birth nameAlexandre Michel Gérard Desplat
Born (1961-08-23) 23 August 1961 (age 57)
Paris, France
Occupation(s)Composer, orchestrator, conductor

Alexandre Michel Gérard Desplat (French:  [a.lɛk.sɑ̃dʁ dɛ.pla] ; born 23 August 1961) is a French film composer, of Greek descent [1] . He has won two Academy Awards, for his musical scores to the films The Grand Budapest Hotel and The Shape of Water , and received eight additional Academy Award nominations, eight César nominations (winning three), nine BAFTA nominations (winning three), ten Golden Globe Award nominations (winning two), and six Grammy nominations (winning two).

Academy Awards American awards given annually for excellence in cinematic achievements

The Academy Awards, also officially and popularly known as the Oscars, are awards for artistic and technical merit in the film industry. Given annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), the awards are an international recognition of excellence in cinematic achievements as assessed by the Academy's voting membership. The various category winners are awarded a copy of a golden statuette, officially called the "Academy Award of Merit", although more commonly referred to by its nickname "Oscar". The statuette depicts a knight rendered in Art Deco style.

<i>The Grand Budapest Hotel</i> 2014 film by Wes Anderson

The Grand Budapest Hotel is a 2014 comedy-drama film written and directed by Wes Anderson, from a story by Anderson and Hugo Guinness, inspired by the writings of Stefan Zweig, to whom Anderson wrote the film as a tribute.

<i>The Shape of Water</i> 2017 film by Guillermo del Toro

The Shape of Water is a 2017 American romantic dark fantasy film directed by Guillermo del Toro and written by del Toro and Vanessa Taylor. It stars Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Doug Jones, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Octavia Spencer. Set in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1962, the story follows a mute cleaner at a high-security government laboratory who falls in love with a captured humanoid amphibian creature. Filming took place in Ontario, Canada, between August and November 2016.


Desplat has worked on a variety of films, including independent and commercial successes by United States, British and European producers, such as The Queen , The Golden Compass , The Curious Case of Benjamin Button , The Twilight Saga: New Moon , Fantastic Mr. Fox , Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 & Part 2 , The King's Speech , The Danish Girl , Moonrise Kingdom , Argo , Rise of the Guardians , Zero Dark Thirty , Godzilla , The Imitation Game, Unbroken , The Secret Life of Pets , and Isle of Dogs .

<i>The Queen</i> (2006 film) 2006 film by Stephen Frears

The Queen is a 2006 British biographical drama film that depicts the death of Diana, Princess of Wales on August 31st, 1997. Initially, the Royal Family regard Diana's death as a private affair and thus not to be treated as an official royal death. This is in contrast with the views of Tony Blair and Diana's ex-husband, Prince Charles, who favour the general public's desire for an official expression of grief. Matters are further complicated by the media, royal protocol regarding Diana's official status, and wider issues about republicanism.

<i>The Golden Compass</i> (film) 2007 fantasy film by Chris Weitz

The Golden Compass is a 2007 fantasy adventure film based on Northern Lights, the first novel in Philip Pullman's trilogy His Dark Materials. Written and directed by Chris Weitz, it stars Nicole Kidman, Dakota Blue Richards, Daniel Craig, Sam Elliott, Eva Green, and Ian McKellen. The project was announced in February 2002, but difficulties over the script and the selection of a director caused significant delays. At US$180 million, it was one of New Line Cinema's most expensive projects ever, and its disappointing results in the US contributed to New Line's February 2008 restructuring.

<i>The Curious Case of Benjamin Button</i> (film) 2008 film by David Fincher

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a 2008 American fantasy romantic drama film directed by David Fincher. The storyline by Eric Roth and Robin Swicord is loosely based on the 1922 eponymous short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald. The film stars Brad Pitt as a man who ages in reverse and Cate Blanchett as the love interest throughout his life.

Early life

Desplat was born in Paris, to a French father and a Greek mother who had met in the United States as students at the University of California, Berkeley. [2] They married in California and returned to France, settling in Paris. Alexandre was the third child, with two older sisters, Marie-Christine, also known as Kiki, and Rosalinda Desplat. In 1983 Kiki co-founded and leads the women's jazz band "Certains L'Aiment Chaud" (Some Like It Hot), [3]

Paris Capital of France

Paris is the capital and most populous city of France, with an area of 105 square kilometres and an official estimated population of 2,140,526 residents as of 1 January 2019. Since the 17th century, Paris has been one of Europe's major centres of finance, diplomacy, commerce, fashion, science, as well as the arts. The City of Paris is the centre and seat of government of the Île-de-France, or Paris Region, which has an estimated official 2019 population of 12,213,364, or about 18 percent of the population of France. The Paris Region had a GDP of €709 billion in 2017. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit Worldwide Cost of Living Survey in 2018, Paris was the second most expensive city in the world, after Singapore, and ahead of Zürich, Hong Kong, Oslo and Geneva. Another source ranked Paris as most expensive, on a par with Singapore and Hong Kong, in 2018. The city is a major railway, highway, and air-transport hub served by two international airports: Paris-Charles de Gaulle and Paris-Orly. Opened in 1900, the city's subway system, the Paris Métro, serves 5.23 million passengers daily, and is the second busiest metro system in Europe after Moscow Metro. Gare du Nord is the 24th busiest railway station in the world, but the first located outside Japan, with 262 million passengers in 2015.

Greece republic in Southeast Europe

Greece, officially the Hellenic Republic, also known as Hellas, is a country located in Southern and Southeast Europe, with a population of approximately 11 million as of 2016. Athens is the nation's capital and largest city, followed by Thessaloniki.

University of California, Berkeley Public university in California, USA

The University of California, Berkeley is a public research university in Berkeley, California. It was founded in 1868 and serves as the flagship institution of the ten research universities affiliated with the University of California system. Berkeley has since grown to instruct over 40,000 students in approximately 350 undergraduate and graduate degree programs covering numerous disciplines.

At the age of five, Desplat began playing piano. [4] He also became proficient on trumpet and flute. He studied with Claude Ballif and Iannis Xenakis in France, and Jack Hayes in the United States. Desplat swiftly became a skilled performer and composer.

Claude Ballif French composer

Claude Ballif was a French composer.

Iannis Xenakis Greek composer and architect

Iannis Xenakis was a Greek-French composer, music theorist, architect, performance director and engineer. After 1947, he fled Greece, becoming a naturalized citizen of France. He is considered an important post-World War II composer whose works helped revolutionize 20th century classical music.

Desplat's musical interests were wide, ranging from early twentieth-century French composers, such as Maurice Ravel and Claude Debussy, to jazz and world music. He was also influenced by South American and African artists, among whom were Carlinhos Brown and Ray Lema. [5]

Maurice Ravel French composer

Joseph Maurice Ravel was a French composer, pianist and conductor. He is often associated with impressionism along with his elder contemporary Claude Debussy, although both composers rejected the term. In the 1920s and 1930s Ravel was internationally regarded as France's greatest living composer.

Claude Debussy 19th and 20th-century French classical composer

(Achille) Claude Debussy was a French composer. He is sometimes seen as the first Impressionist composer, although he vigorously rejected the term. He was among the most influential composers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Carlinhos Brown Brazilian musician

Carlinhos Brown is a Brazilian singer, percussionist, and record producer from Salvador, Bahia. His musical style blends funk, latin music, R&B, soul music, reggae, and traditional Brazilian percussion.

A film fan, Desplat set his sights on becoming a film composer from an early age and worked toward that goal as he started his career. He worked on his first film, Le souffleur, in 1986. [6]

When recording the music for his first film, he met violinist Dominique Lemonnier, who became his favorite soloist, and artistic director. They later married. [5] [7]

Desplat worked on many films since the 1980s, and his big Hollywood break came in 2003 with the soundtrack for the film Girl with a Pearl Earring, a drama set in 17th-century Delft and exploring a fictional muse of Vermeer. [5] [8]


Desplat has composed extensively for French cinema, Hollywood, and incidental music for over 100 films, including Lapse of Memory (1992), Family Express (1992), Regarde Les Hommes Tomber (1994), Les Péchés Mortels (1995), César-nominated Un Héros Très Discret (1996), Une Minute de Silence (1998), Sweet Revenge (1998), Le Château des Singes (1999), Reines d'un Jour (2001), the César-nominated Sur mes lèvres (2002), Rire et Châtiment (2003), Syriana (2005), the César-winner The Beat That My Heart Skipped (2005), The Queen (2006), Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009), Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 (2010), The Ghost Writer (2010), Daniel Auteuil's remake of La Fille du Puisatier (2011), Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 (2011), and The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014).

Desplat has composed individual songs that have been sung in films by such artists as Akhenaton, Kate Beckinsale, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Valérie Lemercier, Miosotis, and Catherine Ringer. He has also written music for the theatre, including pieces performed at the Comédie Française. Desplat has conducted performances of his music played by the London Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Munich Symphony Orchestra. Desplat has also given Master Classes at La Sorbonne in Paris and the Royal College of Music in London.

In 2007, he composed the scores for Philip Pullman's Golden Compass ; Zach Helm's directorial debut Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium with American composer Aaron Zigman; and the Ang Lee movie Lust, Caution . Prior to these break-out works, he contributed scores for The Luzhin Defence , Girl with a Pearl Earring , Syriana , Birth , Hostage , Casanova , The Nest.

For The Painted Veil , he won the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score, Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Music, and the 2006 World Soundtrack Award. He won the 2007 BMI Film Music Award, 2007 World Soundtrack Award, 2007 European Film Award, and received his first Academy Award nomination for Best Original Score for The Queen . He also won the Silver Berlin Bear at the Berlin Film Festival for Best Film Music in The Beat that My Heart Skipped . In 2008, Desplat received his second Oscar nomination for David Fincher's Curious Case of Benjamin Button . Desplat received his third Oscar nomination and a BAFTA nomination for Fantastic Mr. Fox in 2010, both of which were won by Michael Giacchino for Up .

Desplat has composed music for Largo Winch , based on the Belgian comic; Afterwards a French-Canadian psychological thriller film directed by Gilles Bourdos in English; Anne Fontaine's Coco avant Chanel, based on the life of designer Coco Chanel; Robert Guédiguian's L'Armée du Crime ; Cheri , reuniting him with director Stephen Frears, whom he collaborated with on The Queen; Un Prophète reuniting with director Jacques Audiard; Julie & Julia [9] directed by Nora Ephron; Fantastic Mr. Fox , directed by Wes Anderson and based on the novel by Roald Dahl; New Moon , directed by Chris Weitz; Roman Polanski's Ghost Writer ; Tamara Drewe ; The Special Relationship ; and The King's Speech which earned Desplat his fourth Oscar nomination. [10]

In early 2011, Desplat began to write the music to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 . He reunited with director David Yates, who offered Desplat the opportunity to score the second part after his work on the Part 1 soundtrack in 2010 "enchanted everyone in the control room". [11] [12] Desplat's soundtrack sequel to the 2008 film Largo Winch was released in 2011 and was well received. Desplat's 2011 projects included The Tree of Life , directed by Terrence Malick (which he actually recorded in early 2010), A Better Life , [13] La Fille du Puisatier , Roman Polanski's Carnage , George Clooney's Ides of March , and the logo for the French film company StudioCanal.

Desplat started 2012 with Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close , the Florent Emilio Siri-directed biopic Cloclo , and DreamWorks Animation's Rise of the Guardians . His other scores of 2013 included Rust and Bone , Zero Dark Thirty , and Argo , the latter of which earned him Oscar, Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations.

In June 2013, Desplat's first Concerto for Flute & Orchestra premiered in France with flautist Jean Ferrandis and the Orchestre National des Pays de la Loire conducted by John Axelrod. His Trois Etudes for piano originally written for pianist Lang Lang had its U.S. premiere in October 2013 played by pianist Gloria Cheng. He received a sixth Oscar nomination for his score to Philomena , which marked his fourth collaboration with director Stephen Frears.

On 23 June 2014, it was announced that Desplat would head the jury at the 71st Venice International Film Festival. [14] He wrote five major scores during 2014, with The Grand Budapest Hotel winning him his first Academy Award. [15] His score for The Imitation Game was also nominated, and his win therefore marked the first time a composer had won against another of their own scores since John Williams won for Star Wars (beating Close Encounters of the Third Kind ) in 1978, and only the seventh time overall (Alfred Newman, Bernard Herrmann, Max Steiner, Miklos Rozsa and Johnny Green are the only other composers to achieve this).

In 2018, he won his second Academy Award for The Shape of Water and premiered a new work for solo flute played by Emmanuel Pahud.

Filmography (English language)

1998 Sweet Revenge Malcolm Mowbray
2000 The Luzhin Defence Marleen Gorris
2001 A Hell of a Day Marion Vernoux
2003 Girl with a Pearl Earring Peter Webber
2004 Birth Jonathan Glazer
2005 The Upside of Anger Mike Binder
Hostage Florent Emilio Siri
Casanova Lasse Hallström
Syriana Stephen Gaghan
2006 The Alibi Matt Checkowski
Kurt Mattila
Firewall Richard Loncraine
The Queen Stephen Frears
The Painted Veil John Curran
2007 Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium Zach Helm with Aaron Zigman
The Golden Compass Chris Weitz
2008 Afterwards Gilles Bourdos
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button David Fincher
2009 Julie & Julia Nora Ephron
Chéri Stephen Frears
Fantastic Mr. Fox Wes Anderson
The Twilight Saga: New Moon [16] Chris Weitz
2010 The Ghost Writer Roman Polanski
The Special Relationship Richard Loncraine
Tamara Drewe Stephen Frears
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 David Yates
The King's Speech Tom Hooper
2011 The Tree of Life Terrence Malick
A Better Life Chris Weitz
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 David Yates
The Ides of March George Clooney
Carnage Roman Polanski
My Week with Marilyn Simon Curtis "Marilyn's Theme"
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close Stephen Daldry
2012 Moonrise Kingdom Wes Anderson
A Therapy Roman PolanskiShort
Renoir Gilles Bourdos
Rust and Bone Jacques Audiard
Argo Ben Affleck
Rise of the Guardians Peter Ramsey
Zero Dark Thirty Kathryn Bigelow
2013 Zulu Jérôme Salle
Venus in Fur Roman Polanski
Philomena Stephen Frears
2014 The Monuments Men George Clooney
The Grand Budapest Hotel Wes AndersonWon the Academy Award for Best Original Score
Godzilla [17] Gareth Edwards
The Imitation Game [18] Morten Tyldum
Unbroken Angelina Jolie
2015 Tale of Tales Matteo Garrone
Every Thing Will Be Fine Wim Wenders
The Danish Girl Tom Hooper
Suffragette Sarah Gavron
2016 Alone in Berlin Vincent Pérez
Florence Foster Jenkins Stephen Frears
Marseille TV series
The Secret Life of Pets [19] Chris Renaud
The Light Between Oceans Derek Cianfrance
American Pastoral Ewan McGregor
2017 Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets Luc Besson
Trollhunters TV series; "Hero Theme", "Dark Theme" with Tim Davies
The Shape of Water Guillermo del Toro Won the Academy Award for Best Original Score
Suburbicon George Clooney
2018 Isle of Dogs Wes Anderson
Operation Finale Chris Weitz
The Sisters Brothers Jacques Audiard
Kursk Thomas Vinterberg
2019 The Secret Life of Pets 2 [20] Chris Renaud
Jonathan Del Val
Adults in the Room Costa-Gavras
Little Women Greta Gerwig

Filmography (other languages)


Desplat has received many awards and nominations for his work including two Academy Awards, three BAFTA Awards and two Golden Globe Awards.


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