Harry Gregson-Williams was born in the UK where he studied at St John's College in Cambridge. He later taught music at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London and also in Africa. He was persuaded by Hans Zimmer to become a film composer and for the past decade that career has kept him very busy indeed. He started off with some TV work before moving into family films and animations. On many of his earlier films Gregson-Williams was credited with "additional music" to Hans Zimmer and others, and then later he shared the composer credits with John Powell, but more recently he has taken the sole composer credit. While animations have always been family oriented, in recent years they have matured to the stage where children and adults can perceive the same film on different levels, with many jokes and resonances clearly pitched more at the parents than their children. This has allowed Gregson-Williams to demonstrate quite a flair for pastiche which was noted on "Antz" and "The Chicken Run", and became very bankable with the success of "Shrek". While Shrek has now become a franchise with ongoing sequel, spinoff and merchandising opportunities, the composer has entered more mainstream genres with "Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason" and "Kingdom of Heaven".
Team America was a great opportunity for the composer to send up many styles of film music, just as the film with tongue firmly in cheek takes the mickey out film genres, actors and other cherished institutions. An obvious influence is Barry Gray's puppet series such as Thunderbirds, but we also hear some wonderful suggestions of John Williams' Cantina Band from Star Wars along with hints of Rocky style songs for the "Montage" scene, Star Trek, Cats, The Matrix and MIB. The references are too quick to spot sometimes but there is that feeling of familiarity and pastiche. Having established a good working relationship with director Andrew Adamson on "Shrek" and "Shrek 2", Gregson-Williams has now worked with him again on 2005's big family Christmas movie The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe though this time with no evidence of pastiche. He then went on to score the sequel "Prince Caspian" before the baton was handed to David Arnold for the 3rd in the Narnia series: "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader".
Gregson-Williams has also composed some music for video games, including the "Metal Gear Solid" series and "Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare". He has now scored the movie version of "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time" which is based on the video game of the same name (with music by Stuart Chatwood).
Here are some CD covers signed by Harry Gregson-Williams. Our thanks to Petr Kocanda for permission to use his collection of autographed CDs. Click any thumbnail below to see the image full size in a separate window.