'No Time To Die': Hans Zimmer is bringing big John Barry energy to the score

Tom Butler
Senior Editor
Daniel Craig as Ian Fleming's James Bond in No Time To Die. (EON/Universal)

Oscar-winning composer Hans Zimmer says his and Steve Mazzaro’s No Time To Die score has been heavily influenced by John Barry’s classic James Bond scores.

The German musician, whose credits include The Lion King, The Dark Knight and Blade Runner 2049, replaced original composer Dan Romer in January this year, just months ahead of the film’s original release date of April.

In a new interview with Variety, the ever-busy composer, who is concurrently working on Top Gun: Maverick, Wonder Woman 1984 and Dune, said he was surprised to get the call from Bond producer Barbara Broccoli.

He told her he could only turn the score round if he could do it with frequent collaborator Steve Mazzaro, and she agreed, and he promises the score will hark back to the classic John Barry Bond scores of the 1960s, with Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr providing Bond’s iconic theme riff.

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“I didn’t know if I wanted to do it,” Zimmer tells Variety. “So I phoned Johnny Marr, and I said, ‘I have two questions to ask you. First question is, what’s the only guitar part worth playing in a movie?’ And he said, ‘the Bond part’ [the James Bond Theme]. And I said, ‘yeah right. Second question: Do you think I should do the movie and would you play the guitar part?’ So that sort of settled that.

Hans Zimmer and Johnny Marr perform during the "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" New York Premiere at Skylight, 2014. (Photo by Theo Wargo/WireImage)

“Johnny was right. He wanted to bring guitar back into the score. We were just embracing our inner John Barry.”

Monty Norman wrote the original James Bond Theme with its distinctive rhythm guitar riff in 1962 for the release of Dr. No, Bond’s maiden film outing, and it was arranged for the film by composer John Barry. The theme song has been the subject of a number of court cases over the year, with both musicians claiming ownership of the song, with courts twice ruling that Norman is the song’s true composer.

Lashana Lynch and Daniel Craig in a still from No Time To Die. (EON/Universal)

John Barry set the template for Bond scores however, and composed scores for eleven 007 films in total. His last score in the series was for 1987’s The Living Daylights starring Timothy Dalton as James Bond.

Marr and Zimmer have collaborated on a number of film scores in the past including Inception and The Amazing Spider-Man 2. The pair appeared on stage with Billie Eilish at the 2020 Brit Awards to perform her chart-topping theme for No Time To Die.

No Time To Die, starring Daniel Craig, Léa Seydoux, Rami Malek, Lashana Lynch and Ana De Armas, will be released on 12 November.