Thomas Newman

Active - 1984 - Present  |   Born - Oct 20, 1955 in Los Angeles, California, United States  |   Genres - Drama, Comedy, Romance

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Biography by AllMovie

As the Barrymores are to acting, the Newmans are to composing, so it was no surprise when Thomas Newman decided to follow the family footsteps and become a film scorist, too. Still, it must have taken considerable courage, for his father, Alfred Newman, is one of cinema's greatest composers. His uncles, Emil Newman and Lionel Newman, are also highly regarded, and his cousin is quirky pop icon/composer Randy Newman. Even his brother, David Newman, is involved with music. But if anyone was up to the challenges presented by his family reputation, it has been Thomas Newman and he has become a prolific and highly respected composer in his own right. In 1994, he was twice nominated for the Oscar, one for Little Women and the other for The War. He was born and raised in Los Angeles. He launched his music career following studies at the University of Southern California and Yale, gaining experience with several bands. In 1984, he contributed his first few songs for the features Reckless and Revenge of the Nerds and wrote his first full-fledged score for Grandview, U.S.A. (all 1984). Newman has often worked with producer/director Jon Avnet, on such films as Fried Green Tomatoes (1992). A double Oscar nominee in 1995 for his work on Little Women and The Shawshank Redemption, Newman was subsequently nominated for his scores to Unstrung Heroes (1995), American Beauty (2000) and The Road to Perdition (2002).

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  • Befriended composer Stephen Sondheim, who helped to draw attention to his one of earliest theater arrangements, while studying at Yale.
  • Father, legendary composer Alfred Newman, gave composer John Williams some of his first work in Hollywood; Williams later returned the favor, inviting Thomas to work on the orchestral cue for Darth Vader's death scene in Return of the Jedi (1983).
  • Won the Richard Kirk Career Achievement Award at the 2000 BMI Film and TV Awards.
  • Longtime collaborator of Sam Mendes; the pair first worked together on American Beauty (1999).
  • Composed the main title music for Six Feet Under.
  • Released, with Richard Cox, the album 35 Whirlpools Below, in 2014.
  • When Williams was unable to write the score for Bridge of Spies (2015), due to illness, Newman stepped in and replaced him.