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The Real Reason Hans Zimmer Chose Dune Over Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, And How Nolan Responded

Sometimes there are those projects that, when they present themselves to you, are too good of an opportunity to pass up. That’s not to say that composer Hans Zimmer wouldn’t have loved to have worked on writer/director Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, as the two have cultivated an amazing working relationship over several hit movies. But when it came to the timing of that opportunity, two things prevented Zimmer from accepting, one of which was the chance to score Denis Villeneuve’s Dune. Apparently Christopher Nolan’s reaction to this chain of events was “not great.” 

Those are the exact words that Hans Zimmer used to set up the story of why Dune trumped Tenet when he sat down with the hosts of our in-house podcast ReelBlend. Though it wasn’t initially Warner Bros’ latest sci-fi hit that saw Zimmer turning down the Christopher Nolan film that would eventually be scored by composer Ludwig Göransson. When he sat down with the ReelBlend hosts to discuss the matter, this is how Hans Zimmer laid out the scenario: 

Not great. … There’s another part to it as well, which people keep missing out on. I went out on tour, and I suddenly got really interested in this thing that I never thought I’d do. And here I was, sixty-odd years old going, ‘Whoa. This is fun. I like this!’ So Chris realized that, and he realized that that’s where my focus was at that moment.

While moviegoers would remember Hans Zimmer through his iconic scores from films like Disney’s The Lion King and Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy, the past couple of years have indeed seen him become a bit of a rock star. 2017 saw Zimmer performing a set at the famous Coachella music festival, and in the years since he’s run two separate tours: The World of Hans Zimmer and his current gig, Hans Zimmer Live. Taking the music that he’s used to give powerful cinematic moments their punch, Hans Zimmer’s zest for live performance is undeniable. 

Of course, everyone has their dream gigs, and those moments are precious when they arrive. Being brought in to score Dune was something that Hans Zimmer, a fan of the book since childhood, would never have dreamed of passing up. And as he explained in this interview, it didn’t take much to bring him to the table. All Zimmer needed to hear was one word:

The thing that really pulled me back into the movies was Denis, just by saying that word ‘Dune.’ As I said, I was back to being 13, and I was back to before my career started … all of these ideas were rushing through my head.

Reteaming after Hans Zimmer acted as co-composer alongside Benjamin Wallfisch for Blade Runner 2049, fellow Dune fanboy Denis Villeneuve brought the composer back to the world of the movies. And it’s a good thing too, because if it wasn’t for Villeneuve’s big opportunity, Zimmer may not have accepted the duties to score No Time To Die as his next project. It all comes full circle, as while Maestro Zimmer is still slated for his Hans Zimmer Live tour to continue in 2022, he has the scoring duties for the recently confirmed Dune: Part Two waiting for his patient hand as well. 

If you’re a fan of the great Hans Zimmer’s music, you can hear his melodic method in the score for Dune, which is currently in theaters and on HBO Max until November 21st. Or, if you want to hear No Time To Die’s musical cocktail of action and emotion, you can see that film in theaters or rent it on PVOD. Then again, you can listen to those soundtracks on Spotify, but then how would you spot Zimmer’s big ticket cameo in Dune?

Mike Reyes

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.