James Newton Howard's career as a film composer of scores such as Waterworld (1995), The Sixth Sense (1999), Dinosaur (2000) and Signs (2002) emerged from an already well established career as a popular music artist and talented keyboard player.

His feeling and love for music already developed when James was very young at the age of 2. He grew up in a musical family and studied playing the piano at the age of 4. At that time, he had a high interest in classical music especially in Beethoven, which later influenced his later development as a composer.

He soon became interested in popular music and jazz but a real revelation were the Beatles for him. After a classical music education in the early 70's, James turned to popular music and became interested in synthesizers while playing keyboard in various bands. In 1975 he began a very successful relationship with Elton John as a second keyboard player which really launched his career as popular music artist.

In the early 80's he made his first experience with film music as Jerry Goldsmith wanted him to play keyboard on a song for Twillight Zone: The Movie (1983). He got his first scoring assignment only three years later for the Danny DeVito movie Head Office (1986). He instinctively felt that film scoring was what he always wanted to, so there was no way back to popular music for him, although strong pop influences can still be found in his later scores. His career as a film composer took some time to really start going.

His score for Promised Land (1987) was the beginning of a long collaboration with director Michael Hoffman. The big break as a film composer came in 1990 when he scored the Julia Roberts movie Pretty Woman. From that moment on, he was able to work on high profile projects such as Flatliners (1990), The Man In The Moon (1991), My Girl (1991) and The Prince of Tides (1991) which brought him his first of 4 academy award nominations for best original score.

He became the composer of choice for several (more or less successful) Kevin Costner films, leading to the composition of what could be called his most exciting action score to date: Waterworld (1995).

In 1999, he was hired to score the successful M. Night Shyamalan thriller The Sixth Sense. This was the beginning of the collaboration between James and M. Night Shyamalan. James composed the scores for Unbreakable (2000), Signs (2002) and The Village (2004) which earned him another academy award nomination for best score.

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KING KONG (2005)