Danny Elfman turned 70 on Monday, May 29th. This seems incredible to me.
I still think of him as a “boy wonder,” the upstart composer of the 1980s. Back in the day, I remember plunking out the Beetlejuice main title “oompahs” at our upright piano, and thinking the main title to Batman was the coolest thing I had ever heard.
The above pic comes from a BMI awards event, probably not long after I moved to L.A. as those are my college-era glasses.
I’ve always been a fan, and always will. He’s a superstar.
He’s also been consistently one of the most personable, interesting and approachable superstars of all time.
The first time I met him was on one of my first trips to L.A. in the early 1990s. I went out to meet and interview him in his Topanga residence, where I remember we sat and did a very long interview.
When I returned to college and started to transcribe the tape, I learned to my utter horror that the batteries had been running low, and large parts were unusable.
I called Richard Kraft, Danny’s agent, to explain, and ask if Danny could perhaps help me reconstruct some of the comments over the phone?
Richard called me back some time thereafter. I specifically remember asking, “Did he think I’m an idiot?” and Richard said, “Yes.”
But you know what? Danny got on the phone and helped a mortified 20-year-old kid reconstruct their interview for a silly, upstart fanzine.
Some time later, after I moved to L.A., I remember being at the Men in Black scoring session and Danny placed a call to his agency. He sat on the couch and calmly said, “It’s Danny for Laura,” and I remember thinking, yes! That’s how you place a call.
Danny has always had that pitch-perfect combination of shy and genuine, with confident and secure.
In the early 2000s, I was hanging out a lot at screenwriter Shane Black’s house, and Danny and Bridget Fonda bought a mansion in the same gated community, which I went to once or twice.
I lived in Hancock Park at the time, and one time I went to Chan Dara on Larchmont to pick up Thai food where I ran into Danny and Bridget. It was either Christmas or around that time. They invited me to their table and we chatted for a while, which made me feel cool.
Some time afterwards, I saw Bridget at something or other, and explained who I was, and she said, “Oh, our Chan Dara friend.”
Weird the things you remember.
Danny Elfman is 70...wow. Happy birthday!