John Debney is the ultimate film music character actor. In equal demand for family films such as Jingle Jangle, Come Away, and Elf, as he is for adventure films like Iron Man 2, the Oscar-nominated composer also scored the powerful and poignant The Passion of the Christ. Mr. Debney is an agile jack-of-all-genres: sci-fi adventure (The Orville), comedies (Bruce Almighty), horror (Dream House), and romance (Valentine’s Day), all with the same confidence and panache. He is also known for his work on such films as Princess Diaries, Sin City, Liar Liar, Spy Kids, No Strings Attached, The Emperor’s New Groove, I Know What You Did Last Summer, and Hocus Pocus. Mr. Debney’s work also includes Disney’s The Jungle Book, Fox’s Ice Age: Collision Course, and Twentieth Century Fox’s award-winning musical The Greatest Showman. His recent films include The Beach Bum, the Warner Bros. comedy feature Isn’t It Romantic, Paramount Pictures’ family adventure feature Dora and the Lost City of Gold,and Bleecker Street’sbiopic Brian Banks. Upcoming for Mr. Debney is Come Away directed by Brenda Chapman and starring Angelina Jolie.
Born in Glendale, California, Debney’s professional life began after he studied composition at the California Institute of the Arts, when he went to work writing music and orchestrating for Disney Studios and various television series. He won his first Emmy in 1990 for the main theme for The Young Riders. Since then he has won three more Emmys (sea Quest DSV), and been nominated for a total of six (most recently in 2012 for his work on the Western miniseries Hatfields & McCoys). His foray into videogame scoring—2007’s Lair—resulted in a BAFTA nomination and a Best Videogame Score award from the International Film Music Critics Association.
Mr. Debney has collaborated with acclaimed directors including Robert Rodriguez, Garry Marshall, Mel Gibson, the Farrelly Brothers, Jon Favreau, Jim Sheridan, Ivan Reitman, Peter Chelsom, Rob Cohen, Brian Robbins, Tom Shadyac, Sam Raimi, Adam Shankman, Howie Deutch, Renny Harlin, Peter Hyams, and Kenny Ortega. He was nominated by the Academy for his Passion of the Christ score, and then created The Passion Oratorio, performed in 2015 in the historic Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba, Spain, in front of 6,000 people during Holy Week. In 2005, Mr. Debney was the youngest recipient of ASCAP’s Henry Mancini Career Achievement Award.