Legendary composer Hans Zimmer talks to Ethan Sills about stage fright, horns, and inspiring the next generation.

He's created some of the most memorable scores in film-making history. From Thelma and Louise, to Pirates of the Caribbean, Hans Zimmer is the man Hollywood turns to when they need to dial up the movie magic.

That success has, however, come at a cost for the legendary composer.

"I never actually leave this room I'm in very much," Zimmer says, joking.

That's one reason why the German-born composer is embarking on a world tour. Hans Zimmer Revealed not only lets him perform for his fans, it's letting Zimmer visit countries he's never been to before - including New Zealand.

"Part of why I've been pushing for this tour to go to New Zealand is totally for selfish reasons. You live in a brilliant beautiful place, we're a bit envious."


Zimmer promises the Vector Arena show will not be your "typical classic concert", with his roaring scores accompanied by more than 4000 lighting cues.

He also reveals there will be an "element of high drama" - one that may not reassure his fans.

"I suffer from stage fright, I was never going to leave this room. Then a couple of musician friends of mine basically said to me 'that's not an excuse, everyone's got stage fright. After all these years you've got to go look them in the eye'.

"So part of what you have to look forward to is seeing if I get out on stage," he adds with a laugh.

Zimmer's career started in the 70s, performing with bands before opening a recording studio in the 80s and composing his own pieces.

The 59-year-old says film composing gives him the freedom to experiment with different styles many musicians wouldn't get.

"I can go from doing Thelma and Louise, [which] sounds completely different from Gladiator, which sounds completely different from Black Hawk Down. I get to just have fun working with different styles.

"If you were James Brown and you wanted to do Gladiator, you would've gotten a hard time."

Experimenting with different styles means Zimmer is constantly challenging himself to come up with something new when tackling a genre for the first time.

"I remember when Disney asked me to do The Lion King. Up till then I had thought of their movies as Broadway fairytales. I kept saying 'I don't like Broadway music', and they kept saying 'exactly, that's why we want you to do it'."

His endless reinvention hasn't stopped his work from setting a precedent for other composers.

Zimmer's use of a booming horn in Inception proved so effective in helping to promote the film that it has been adapted as a marketing tool for other movies - but Zimmer says it was never meant to be that way.

"[The horn], it's actually in the script. It's a story point. Whereas in the trailer, it's just a sound effect. It's a funny thing that has taken on a life on its own and has been completely misinterpreted."

The score for that film and The Dark Knight trilogy proved so influential that it made collaborating with director Christopher Nolan again on Interstellar more of a challenge than usual.

"Chris and I sat down and made a list of all the instruments we had used [before]. We wanted to do something different and had to look at what instruments we had left," Zimmer laughs.

In between his many projects, Zimmer is hoping to inspire the next generation of musicians, creating a series of masterclass video tutorials on composing.

Working on films may not sound like a traditional path for a musician to take, but Zimmer says Hollywood is important in keeping music alive.

"One of the things I like about Hollywood - you could say a hundred horrible things about Hollywood and they are all true - but the one thing you can't take away from it is that it is probably the last place on earth to commission orchestras to play music.

"If we lose the orchestras, I think there will be a huge cultural rift in our humanity. It's really important to help the next generation. I'm just trying to do my bit to help."

Who: Hollywood composer Hans Zimmer
What: Plays Vector Arena
When: April 29