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How Hans Zimmer Convinced Christopher Nolan to Make Interstellar

Hans Zimmer has been scoring major motion pictures for over 30 years, and among the filmmakers he’s collaborated with on multiple occasions is Christopher Nolan. Zimmer has composed music for six of Nolan’s movies, including 2014’s Interstellar. In fact, it’s thanks to Zimmer musical talents that Nolan made Interstellar in the first place.

During Hans Zimmer’s recent visit to the Reelblend podcast to talk about his work on Denis Villeneuve’s Dune (which he chose over re-teaming with Christopher Nolan on Tenet), co-host Kevin McCarthy brought up a story about how Villeneuve cried when he first heard the “Paul’s Dream” track during a Zoom meeting with the composer, and then McCarthy asked Zimmer what it’s like to present a filmmaker his music in such a fashion and see their reaction, especially if it involves tears. After noting how he learned a long time ago not to look at a director when they listen to a piece of his music for the first time in case there’s a “slight shadow of disgust and disdain” on their face, Zimmer said the following:

It goes back to Chris Nolan and Interstellar. Chris asked me to write this piece of music before he’d even written the script. So I play it to him without looking at him. You can see the couch behind me, he was sitting on the couch. So I was not facing him, and I got to the end of it and I said, ‘So what do you think?’ And he’s just leaning back and goes, ‘Hmm, suppose I better make the movie.’ And I’m going, ‘What is the movie?’ Because he never told me what it was going to be about.

Before going further, it’s important to note that Interstellar didn’t originate from Christopher Nolan; the project had been in development since the mid-2000s, with Steven Spielberg previously having been lined up to direct. That being said, evidently even before he started working on Interstellar, Nolan had an idea for a piece of music he wanted included in the hypothetical movie, and once Hans Zimmer put it together, that was enough to persuade Nolan to actually make the movie. Zimmer, on the other hand, had to wait a spell before learning the plot.

Starring Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway and Jessica Chastain, among others, Interstellar followed a team of astronauts who are sent through a wormhole near Saturn to find a new home for humanity, as Earth’s natural resources have almost been depleted. Along with scoring a decent amount of positive reception and taking home the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects, Interstellar pulled in over $700 million at the worldwide box office, making it the tenth highest-grossing movie of 2014. Zimmer also received various accolades for his Interstellar score, including Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations.

Along with Dune, you can hear Hans Zimmer’s musical work in the recent releases No Time to Die and Army of Thieves (both of which he worked on with Steve Mazzaro). As for Christopher Nolan, he’s now putting together his Robert Oppenheimer biopic, and it’s reasonable to assume he’ll try to snag Zimmer for scoring duties.

Adam Holmes

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.