John Powell is an English composer most famous for his work on animated movies. Like many other emerging composers of the 1990s, Powell was a member of Hans Zimmer’s “Remote Control Productions” and he frequently composed alongside members of the studio, as well as Hans Zimmer himself.
John Powell was born on September 18, 1963 in London, United Kingdom. As a child, Powell used to regularly practice the violin. His rapid progress on the violin earned him an admission at the Trinity College of Music in London. Powell then had a brief stint with the Rock and Jazz Movement when he played for the amateur soul band “Faboulistics”.
Powell started off his career as a composer of music for commercials, and as an assistant to Patrick Doyle, a Scottish Composer famous for his film scores that include “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”, “Eragon” and “Thor”. In 1995, Powell co-founded “Independently Thinking Music”. The Studio, housed in London, produced scores for more than a hundred European commercials.
Powell’s work with Doyle led to him being discovered by director John Woo, who asked Powell to compose the score for his 1997 movie, “Face Off”. The score was produced by the legendary composer, Hans Zimmer. Then, in 1998, Powell composed the score for DreamWorks Animation’s “Antz” with Harry Gregson-Williams. Powell’s work for “Antz” marked the beginning of a long partnership between him and Gregson-Williams, and an even longer partnership with him and DreamWorks Animations. Powell’s works with Gregson-Williams included scores for “Chicken Run”, and the Academy Award Winning Animation, “Shrek”. He also worked with Blue Fox Studios to compose the scores for “Ice Age 2: The Meltdown” in 2006 and for “Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs”. Powell’s other works for animated movies include the score for the Academy Award winning movie “Happy Feet” in 2006, and for “How to Train Your Dragon” in 2010. Many believe that Powell’s intensely researched score for “How to Train Your Dragon”, that made fabulous use of bagpipes and penny whistles, was Powell’s best score ever. The score was also nominated for Academy Award for Best Original Score. Powell then went on to write the score for the movie’s sequel, “How to Train Your Dragon 2” in 2013. He also collaborated with Hans Zimmer on the score for “Kung Fu Panda” in 2008.
Powell has also shared a rich collaborative history with Doug Liman. With Liman, Powell scored “The Bourne Identity”, an incredibly famous action movie based on the book by Robert Ludlum. The other two movies in the series, “The Bourne Supremacy” and “The Bourne Ultimatum”, were also scored by Powell, even though they were not directed by Liman. Powell also scored the mega blockbuster, “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” for Liman in 2005, along with “Jumper” in 2008, and “Fair Game” in 2010.
Powell also made a name for himself as a composer for action-thrillers. Other than his works for Liman’s Action movies, Powell wrote the score for “X-Men: The Last Stand” in 2006, “Hancock” in 2008, and “Green Zone”, also in 2008. He also composed the score for James Mangold’s “Knight and Day”.
John Powell is a multiple Annie Award winner for “Best Music in an Animated Feature Production” and “Best Original Score”. He was also nominated for three BAFTA’s and an Academy Award.