A film composer whose off-kilter works can frequently be heard in the efforts of both the Coen brothers and Spike Jonze, Carter Burwell has also found work on such high-profile Hollywood efforts as Rob Roy (1995) and Conspiracy Theory (1997). Though the New York City native was merely going through the motions when his parents signed him up for piano lessons as a child, his passion for music was truly ignited when a high school friend encouraged him to explore blues improvisation. Continuing on the piano while a student at Harvard, it was during a performance at a club shortly before graduation that the sound editor for an independent thriller entitled Blood Simple heard Burwell and recommended the young musician to the film's directors. A penchant for simple melodies punctuated by unusual instrument selections and an ever-evolving incorporation of various styles found Burwell scoring virtually every Coen brothers movie since Blood Simple, and an interest in a dark and comedic approach to such weighty issues of death often finds his sometimes subdued quirkiness bubbling to the surface. Burwell's signature mournful-yet-hopeful sound has lent itself well to everything from straight drama to cutting black comedy. Burwell's work on director Spike Jonze's Being John Malkovich found the composer forming a close relationship with yet another unconventional filmmaker, and Burwell subsequently scored Jonze's follow-up feature, Adaptation, as well. Awards for his contributions to Fargo, Gods and Monsters, and Before Night Falls have ensured Burwell an enduring career in both mainstream and independent film alike. For inspiration, Burwell often eschews the urban confines of New York City for the nature and serenity of Big Sur, and in 1999, the prolific composer exchanged wedding vows with wife Christine.