Composer Trevor Morris gets Emmy nomination for Showtime’s “The Borgias”
July 31, 2012 by Dana Feldman
by Dana Feldman
Emmy Award-winning composer, Trevor Morris, well known for his uniquely violent yet elegant style, recently received an Emmy nomination for the 64th Primetime Emmy Awards, 2012, for Outstanding Music Composition for a Series (Original Dramatic Score) for Showtime’s The Borgias.
Morris can be found creating music for some of Hollywood’s hottest films and television shows at his state-of-the-art scoring studio located in the heart of Santa Monica, CA. “My studio is a physical incarnation of my voice as a composer. I designed an environment that I want to work in.” Charming and cozy immediately upon entering, a quaint kitchen area is to the right and just beyond is a comfortable sitting area that includes a sofa and chairs and billiards table. A long brick wall houses posters from his various projects and as you walk back to the studios, the feel is more of a home with the warmth of dark woods and earthy tones throughout. “Everything is designed to suit my style and allow an environment of creativity.”
We sit in his studio where guitars, violins, keyboards and an elegant grand piano encase us in a bubble of music mastery. A huge flat screen is mounted on the wall, and on his desk, sit his two Emmys and his two Gemini Awards (the Canadian version of the Emmys). Of his Emmy Award wins, he explains their personal meaning to him. “These are special because they’re based purely on votes from my peers. Fellow composers voted for me and that means so much.”
We discuss his many projects and when asked if he has a favorite, his immediate answer is that each have been special in their own way. “The most enjoyable in my feature film career, if I had to pick one, would be Immortals. I loved working with Tarsem Singh. I could’ve scored that film for a year and never run out of ideas.”
Admitting that with Immortals, The Tudors and The Borgias under his belt he’s been perceived as the historical drama guy, he adds laughing, “I find it hysterical. I had never done anything of this genre before The Tudors.” Briefly pausing, he adds, “I’m grateful to be known for this, but in the big picture of my career, it’s a small portion of the work I’ve done.” Morris admits to a huge affinity for period pieces explaining, “I love working on The Borgias, that Renaissance period has such luscious, dark, sexy and bloody subject matter. Neil Jordan, the creator, is a mad genius who lets me stretch my wings.”
So what has Morris yet to accomplish in his career? “I’ve not yet done a space movie. I’m a child of the ‘Star Wars’ generation and I’ve been chasing doing a movie of that genre all my life. It’s a dream of mine.”
Next in line would be to score the adaptation of Paulo Coelho’s “The Alchemist” which has recently been optioned as a film. “This is one of my favorite books and it’s meant so much to me in my life and my career. I’d love to score that. I’m scoring it in my head as we speak!”
Extremely busy preparing to compose music for the third season of The Borgias, he points to a pile of scripts that he’s currently reading for the new season. He tells of his process, “A skill that’s opening up to me as my career matures is the ability to write without video footage and to write just off the script itself.” Explaining that he’s more moved by writing to imagery, he adds, “I react very naturally to moving imagery almost immediately and I hear the music right away.” Writing ahead with just the written word in front of him, he recently wrote the six main themes with no video footage to Starz Entertainment’s The Pillars of the Earth. “I’m starting to do a lot more of that.”
On the art of composing, “Music is a large part of the soul of a movie. It has the ability to radically change the same imagery to make an audience feel any number of emotions – for instance, love, hate, fear.” Pausing, he delves further, “Only music has the ability to speak to the abstract more specifically to subtext in a way nothing else can. Listening to music is a real time experience with a beginning, a middle and an end.”
With music in his blood, he wrote his first composition at the age of thirteen, “I wrote it for piano and four part choir to honor Pope John Paul’s visit to Canada.” Adding that if he weren’t a composer, he’d be a chef. “I find food and wine to be very similar to music. All involve technique, craft, art, creativity, improvisation, imagination and determination.”
Morris’ long list of music credits includes Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest and Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Dreamworks’ Shark Tale, Columbia and Warner Bros’ Something’s Gotta Give, and Anchor Bay’s Beautiful Boy.
Upcoming work includes Universal 1440 Entertainment’s film Death Race: Inferno, starring Danny Trejo and Ving Rhames, Lionsgate’s Fire with Fire, starring Bruce Willis, Josh Duhamel, Vincent D’Onofrio, Rosario Dawson and 50 Cent, the highly anticipated ABC drama 666 Park Avenue, starring Vanessa Williams, Dave Annable and Terry O’Quinn and Syfy’s wildly popular Alpha’s.