A lifelong fan of music and film whose duel passions combined with a talent for composition to lay the groundwork for a prolific career scoring films, Alexandre Desplat grew up admiring the cinematic scores of such legends as Bernard Herrmann, Georges Delerue, Maurice Jarre, and Nino Rota.
A native of France, Desplat began playing the piano at age five and was raised on a steady diet of American films. Though his education consisted of traditional conservatory training, the emerging composer penned music for a traveling theater troupe before branching out into short films and, later, television and features. Desplat eventually developed a style that revolved more around color and texture than traditional melody, and his creativity flourished in the European film industry -- where film composers are usually afforded smaller budgets and less-severe time restraints than their American counterparts. Though it was during the mid-'80s that Desplat began to establish himself in the realm of cinema, it was his continuing collaborations with director Jacques Audiard, beginning with Desplat's score 1994's See How They Fall, that inspired numerous other directors to seek out the composer's talents.
After nearly 15 years of making a name for himself in the European film scene, Desplat began working his way stateside with a Golden Globe-nominated score for Peter Weber's Girl with a Pearl Earring (2003). Having established a successful working relationship with French filmmaker Florent Emilio Siri with the 1998 coal-mining drama Une Minute de Silence, the pair continued to work together on Nid de Guêpes (a French variation of the John Carpenter classic Assault on Precinct 13). Later, when Siri made his way to the U.S. to helm the Bruce Willis thriller Hostage, he would bring his trusted composer along for the ride.
His star fast on the rise, Desplat earned yet another Golden Globe nomination for his Middle Eastern-flavored score to the labyrinthine Stephen Gaghan thriller Syriana before continuing the Hollywood trend with scores to The Alibi and Firewall in 2006. Though to some it may have appeared as if Desplat was abandoning his European roots in favor of stateside success, a César-winning score for 2005's The Beat That My Heart Skipped, a Golden Globe-winning score for the U.S.-Chinese co-production The Painted Veil, and a BAFTA-nominated score for director Stephen Frears' The Queen (composed in just three weeks after Frears deemed the previous composer's score unacceptable) proved without question that the increasingly prominent composer was still very much an international player. Desplat would remain a prolific composer for movies in the years to come, penning scores to films like The Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Tree of Life, and The Ides of March.