Despite the fruitless quest of finding a time travelling pirate who I can stream his latest film from, I arrive at the studio, hung-over by the award-heavy internet history of the night before. It’s Patrick Doyle. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (back when nobody supported team ‘Cedric Diggory’), Donnie Brasco, Bridget Jones’ Diary…a mere quaver of high notes that have been hit by the Mr.Multiverse of musical talent embodied before me. Through this composer’s tremolo of triumph, he’s received an Ivor Novello award for Best film theme: ‘Non Nobis Domine´’ – Henry V, had his ‘Kissing in the Rain’ sampled by Kanye West’s track: ‘Robocop’, and if that didn’t induce the tiniest of eyebrow wows: in 1997 Patrick played out leukaemia, being encored back into good health in time to finish César award nominated, French-film score: East/West.
Curious as to how Patrick’s days at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama might compare with our own at UCL; I ask whether he was at the Hermione Granger or Vincent Crabbe end of the student spectrum: ‘Well, I was a student who couldn’t be placed. We were in the same building as drama but paradoxically there was very little interaction between these two departments. They ate at their tables in the canteen, we ate at ours. But I befriended the drama students and ultimately for a long period of my life became a musical director and an actor. The academy was very traditional and academic, and I’m quite an extravert and like a giggle so there was a perception I wasn’t taking it as seriously as they expected people to do. In fact I worked very hard, I’m just a bit of a polymath…I wanted to try everything before I finally decided – I will be a composer. I knew I loved drama, and I loved music, and I could never understand why these worlds collided but never fused.’
Following twelve years as a musician and actor, it was whilst working as musical director on Henry V, with close friend Kenneth Branagh that he began his ascent into the high-score holding composer he’s now known as. When I enquire as to where someone should start when trying to emulate his success, he tells me: ‘If a person wants to get into the world of the film music, then the advice I always give is go and see as much Theatre as possible. As much opera as possible because opera is clearly such a dramatic art form, the fusion of drama and music, and film music is a very operatic medium. My music is influenced by all the art forms, whether it be literature, ballet, opera or art, and ultimately the history of music, through the lives of the composers and where they were placed historically is of great interest to me. I would recommend all students to really feast on all these art forms and outlets and let that inform their work.’
Inspired by Norse mythology but based on the Marvel comic character, Patrick’s latest film: Thor seems to have crept quietly from the basement of Forbidden Planet and soon, onto the cinematic stage (May 6th 2010).
Directed by Kenneth Branagh, the picture features pecs-bomb protagonist, Chris Hemsworth and eye-jaculatory love interest, Natalie Portman – the human who first finds Thor following his exile from Asgard, the realm of Asgardian Gods. Running with Thor’s theme of roil and redemption, I ask whether Patrick has ever felt exiled from the musical kingdom. ‘Fortunately, no. I suppose I was very ill at one stage, I had leukaemia and I went back to work very quickly afterwards. I wrote a film score for an animation called Quest for Camelot while I was in Hospital, which was highly unusual as you can imagine considering I couldn’t read, watch videos or even listen to music. This crisis ultimately drained even my spare battery until there was nothing left. Even though I went back to work in three months and completed another two pictures, afterwards I realised I needed to take a year off. I suppose when I came back it wasn’t redemption but more a resurrection in terms of my own personal struggle. The thing is about this business is that you have to continually redeem yourself, continually fight, continually be as good the next time. I think to have a film composing career after 22 years has to be some sort of achievement in itself.’
In an industry cramped with commerciality, Patrick still manages to inject freshness and originality into his work, boasting an ever-growing filmography of over 40 scores. Not only did Patrick express his willingness to send Nick Clegg a blood quill given the disapparation of affordable tuition fees, he also paid for my lunch. What a muggle!