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October 12, 2012

Rupert Gregson-Williams on Here Comes the Boom

By Rupert Gregson-Williams

Rupert Gregson-Williams

Rupert Gregson-Williams

I had worked with Kevin James and Frank Coraci on Zookeeper, and Frank before that on Adam Sandler's Click. Both of them love music, love a theme. They're tough guys, but both are soft in the middle, so they aren't afraid to be emotional with the score.

I got involved in Here Comes the Boom back in 2011, before the movie was shot. In the film, Kevin plays a teacher at a school where the music program is being canceled. As a way to raise money for the music department, he moonlights as an MMA fighter.

In the first act of the movie, the school orchestra needed to play the main theme as if they were “trying hard,” and, in the last act, they needed to play it with more passion and style, so the main theme was to be written before the scenes were shot. Getting involved early in the pre-production stages of a film makes a composer feel more invested in the movie. Too often it can be a case of “Here you are; take our finished movie, complete with Oscar-winning temp theme… Now beat that!” That can definitely be a challenge.

Here Comes the Boom is firstly a comedy, but it's also an aspirational, sports movie with immigrant characters aspiring to become legal US citizens, thrown in for good measure. The score had to have an Americana feel to it, but still have a sound that was current. For instance, I combined a large orchestra with heavily-programmed synths, guitars and percussion for the fight scenes. Having a big theme pre-written helped the process no end, and playing a big, proud Americana tune on crunching beats and hardcore metal was a lot of fun.

And what a great singer Charice is! We worked together on a song for the movie and she blew me away with her effortless power and range. Unfortunately, I can't say much more without adding a spoiler alert…

There was plenty of comedy to score. Each comedian I've worked with times their delivery so uniquely. Whether it's Kevin James or Adam Sandler, I can flatten a comedian’s comic timing by trying to be clever and matching them or commenting musically. If I push too hard, we're in cartoon land; if I’m too subtle, we're wallpaper. Underscoring comedy has to be as tricky as any form of what we do.

But the best part about scoring Here Comes the Boom? Way after writing the themes – after scoring with the greatest players in town – it was the final music meeting in my studio with Kevin James, Frank Coraci and Todd Garner playing back the last reel. Lights down, volume up, press play – what a relief…

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Here Comes the Boom, starring Kevin James, Salma Hayek, Henry Winkler, Joe Rogan, Charice and more, was released in theaters on October 12th.

Rupert Gregson-Williams is an award-winning British film score composer. Educated at St John's College, Cambridge choir school and Lancing College, he is a former member of Hans Zimmer's Media Ventures team of composers. Rupert's filmography includes Hotel Rwanda, for which he was awarded the European Film composer award, Over the Hedge, Bee Movie, Zookeeper, Made of Honor, Bedtime Stories and many others. His brother, Harry Gregson-Williams, is also a highly successful and award-winning film composer. He works regularly with fellow film composer and member of British rock band Dire Straits Mark Knopfler.

Other film and television projects on which Rupert has worked include El Dorado, Virtually Sexuality, Muppets From Space, Extremely Dangerous, and Hannibal. He has a long term working relationship with Adam Sandler, scoring most of his movies.

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