John Debney

John Debney

American film composer (born 1956)
John Debney

John Debney Composer - Born 18 August 1956 Glendale, California, USA

Height 6′ (1.83 m)

Mini Bio John Debney's career seemed destined for Hollywood, the son of Disney Studios producer Louis Debney, John grew up in nearby Glendale, California where he got early inspiration for film and music growing up on the Disney Studio lot. The child of two musicians, John showed an early aptitude for music and began guitar lessons at age six, later playing in rock bands throughout college. Debney earned his B.A. in Music Composition from California Institute of the Arts in 1979, and after four years immersing himself in the business at Disney Studios, Debney made a professional entry into the industry, composing for TV, working with Steven Spielberg and Mike Post on shows such as Star Trek: The Next Generation, Tiny Tunes, and Sea Quest DSV. Debney continued his hands-on training, working with Hanna-Barbera composer Hoyt Curtin, and went on to score major television projects such as which he won an Emmy for Best Main Title.

Debney's first big film break came in 1997 with an offer to work on Liar Liar with director Tom Shadyac. With the success of this blockbuster comedy under his belt, Debney went on to work on a variety of different major films including Elf, Iron Man 2, Spy Kids (1 & 2), and I Know What You Did Last Summer. Debney and Shadyac continued to collaborate, going on to do Bruce Almighty in 2003 and the spinoff Evan Almighty together. In 2005, Debney formed a successful partnership with director Robert Rodriguez, creating scores for his movies Sin City and Machete.

Although Debney was widely known within the industry as a versatile and talented composer, the world wouldn't discover him until he composed the landmark score for Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ. Enticed by the idea of working on a project that held deep, spiritual meaning for him, Debney's score, which blended symphonic orchestra, a wide range of world instruments, and the beauty of the human voice, connected on an emotional level with viewers and listeners, and rose to #1 on Billboard's charts for Soundtrack and Christian Albums, and #19 on the Billboard Top 200. The record was certified gold by the RIAA and won the Dove award for Best Instrumental Album, as well as garnering Debney an Oscar nomination.

Shortly after the movie release, Debney premiered "The Passion of the Christ Symphony" in Rome, Italy, a highly successful performance featuring an 83-person choir and a 96-piece orchestra, plus solo musicians and guest vocalists from both the film and the classical worlds, which received a 15-minute standing ovation from the audience. In the tradition of classical composers, John Debney enjoys conducting his own work and has conducted some of the world's greatest orchestras. "A big part of the joy in what I do is that I consider it an honor to stand in front of live musicians and have the opportunity to hear my music played by these talented people."

Debney's most commercially successful work to date is Disney's live-action adaptation of The Jungle Book, directed by Jon Favreau, released in 2016. Debney credits the success of the movie to the fact that both the film and the score, "Embraced the history" of the original. Long-time collaborator, Jon Favreau and John Debney have worked on a variety of films together including Elf, Zathura, Iron Man 2, and The Jungle Book. Among John Debney's other most recent works are scores for Draft Day, Stoneheart Asylum and History's Emmy-nominated Hatfields & McCoys as well as the History's most recent mini-series Houdini, and A&E mini-series Bonnie & Clyde.

Considered one of the most prolific and successful composers in Hollywood, Debney has won 3 Emmy's and been nominated for 7, he is also an Academy Award nominee, and the youngest recipient of ASCAP's prestigious Henry Mancini Lifetime Achievement Award.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Anonymous



Louis Debney

Lou Debney

Trademarks Often composes music for comedy movies


Composed the music for the "Phantom Manor" ride at Disneyland, Paris.

Son of Lou Debney.

Cites Henry Mancini as one of his favorites composers, especially Mancini's score for the Pink Panther films.

First concert he ever attended featured The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl (August 1964).

Graduated from The California Institute of the Arts with a BFA in Music Composition (1978).


I hate, hate being on a movie set. It takes about 5 hours just to light the thing.

John C. Debney (born August 18, 1956) is an American film composer and conductor. He received an Academy Award nomination for his score for Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ (2004). He also composed the score for Cutthroat Island, which has been celebrated by music critics as a notable example of swashbuckling film music.

John Debney: The Adaptable

John Debney was born in 1956 in California. His father Louis Debney was a production coordinator and producer for Disney programs such as Zorro and Wonderful World of Color. John began with guitar lessons at a young age and studied the Disney animated films his father would bring home to watch. Eventually Debney found his way into rock bands. For college, Debney received a degree in Music Composition from California Institute of Arts (Cal-Arts). Shortly after graduation, Debney found himself in the copying department at Disney, and eventually arranging and re-scoring music for Disney World and Epcot.

It was television composer Mike Post that got Debney a start as a composer. His work with Hanna-Barbera animated shows led him to work on Yogi Bear, Scooby-Doo and Jetsons TV series and TV movies in the early 1980s. He also wrote some additional music for Disney television programs around the same time. In the mid-80s, he composed scores to the TV shows Fame, Police Academy: The Series and A Pup Named Scooby-Doo. It was his animation work that led him to one of his beginning features, The Jetsons Movie (1990). His work on the series The Young Riders gave Debney an Emmy nomination for Main Title Theme, and won an Emmy for the underscore of an episode in 1991. Debney also provided the score to the ride Phantom Manor at Disneyland Paris, which opened in 1992.

1993 was a big year for Debney, as he started getting more projects. Among the TV movies, he scored two episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, a few episodes of SeaQuest DSV (including an Emmy winning Main Title theme). One of his first film successes (and first studio film) was the popular Disney Halloween film, Hocus Pocus (1993). He started scoring more family-friendly fare such as White Fang 2: Myth of the White Wolf (1994), Little Giants (1994), Houseguest (1995) and one episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

It was the box office bomb Cutthroat Island (1995) that brought Debney some attention from music lovers. His swashbuckling score was reminiscent of the old Korngold scores of the 1930s, utilizing the London Symphony Orchestra. This remains as one of the genre's best and one of Debney's best achievements. His work on the series The Cape (1996) was honored with an Emmy nomination for Title Theme and winning for the dramatic underscore to the pilot (shared with Louis Febre). Debney continued to get film gigs, like Liar Liar (1997) with themes by James Newton Howard, and the horror films The Relic (1997) and I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997). In the late 1990s, live action family oriented comedies continued, like Paulie (1998), My Favorite Martian (1999) with Danny Elfman, and Inspector Gadget (1999). That same year, he switched styles for the apocalyptic film End of Days (1999).

In 2000, Debney reunited with Disney animation, this time for the feature-length The Emperor's New Groove (2000) which was quickly scored alongside songs by Sting. Debney began a collaboration with director Robert Rodriguez as one of the composers in the hodge-podge score for Spy Kids (2001). His style came in handy for such films as Cats & Dogs (2001) and the animated Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius (2001). Starting with director Garry Marshall, he scored the popular comedy The Princess Diaries (2001). He ramped up even more films with the supernatural Dragonfly (2002), another film with Rodriguez Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams (2002) and the larger than life The Scorpion King (2002).

2003 provided some more high profile films including the comedy Bruce Almighty (2003). He began a collaboration with director Jon Favreau on the Christmas hit, Elf (2003). Additionally he stepped in to Looney Tunes: Back In Action (2003) to finish a few cues for Jerry Goldsmith. (None of his cues appeared on the soundtrack). Debney composed a lot of scores in 2004, like Raising Helen (2004) and The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement (2004) both with Garry Marshall, and additional cues into Spider-Man 2 (2004). His most notable feature turned out to be The Passion of the Christ (2004). The dark and dramatic score featured a large orchestra and orchestra, ethnic instruments and vocal solos. The score led to Debney's first Oscar nomination. He later transformed his popular score into The Passion of the Christ Symphony, which premiered in Rome with a huge orchestra and choir.

Debney reconnected with many collaborators like Robert Rodriguez for The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl (2005) and Sin City (2005), Jon Favreau for the adventure score Zathura (2005). That same year he scored the lovely Dreamer (2005) and another Disney animated film, Chicken Little (2005). In 2005, Debney became the youngest composer to recieve ASCAP's Henry Mancini Award. Debney's versatile sound obviously fits with animated films, with the scores to Everyone's Hero (2006) and The Ant Bully (2006). In 2007 he returned with director Tom Shadyac for Evan Almighty (2007), with Garry Marshall on Georgia Rule (2007) and yet again composed additional music for Spider-Man 3 (2007). It was also the year Debney dabbled into scoring a video game - this being Lair (2007). The score got tremendous reviews, a BAFTA nomination and remains a fan favorite.

Over the next few years, Debney continued with family friendly fare like Hotel for Dogs (2009), Aliens in the Attic (2009), Yogi Bear (2010), comedies like Meet Dave (2008), and Old Dogs (2009). His dramatic score to The Stoning of Soraya M. (2008) is another powerful score along the lines of Passion of the Christ. He reunited with Garry Marshall for the romantic comedy Valentine's Day (2010). He returned to his action roots with Predators (2010) and for the Marvel film Iron Man 2 (2010), directed by friend Jon Favreau. 2011 saw the thriller Dream House (2011) and the Valentine's Day follow-up directed by Marshall - New Year's Eve (2011). He scored the comedy The Three Stooges (2012), action thriller Alex Cross (2012) and returned to his TV roots with the miniseries Hatfields & McCoys (2012), which his score was nominated for an Emmy (shared with Tony Morales). So far in 2013 he scored the thriller The Call (2013), and the Steve Jobs biopic, jOBS (2013) with many films most likely in the pipeline.

With scores appearing in just about every genre and subject, you've probably heard a John Debney score without even knowing it. He has turned out many films a year since the beginning of his career. He was even profiled in Variety as a "Billion Dollar Composer", scoring films that grossed billions. In addition to conducting his own film scores, Debney conducted several re-recordings with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. Debney's adaptability in genres and styles makes each score sound fresh and different. Being able to go from animated comedies to action thrillers obviously is one of his best attributes and he can turn out a high quality score within a quick deadline. And of course, even the goofiest (and lowest reviewed comedies) are taken seriously in their scores and feature great orchestral writing. John Debney really has shown perseverance going from TV movies and series to high profile films throughout his career. He has thrived with his collaborations with directors like Jon Favreau, Garry Marshall and Robert Rodriguez. Debney continues to be one of the most sought-after composers in Hollywood today.

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John Debney was born on Saturday, 18 August 1956 in Glendale, California, USA. His full name at birth was John Cardon Debney. He is best known as a composer. Debney's country of citizenship (nationality) is American. John Debney is 67 years old and his zodiac star sign is Leo.

You can find people similar to John Debney by visiting our lists Skydance Media people and Animated film score composers.

Full name at birth
John Cardon Debney
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18 August 1956
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Glendale, California, USA
Composer, conductor
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Glendale, California, USA
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John Debney is known for his role in the film Madame Web (2024) as writer: "Final Confrontation".

He is also known for his role in the film Horizon: An American Saga - Chapter 1 (2024) - original music.

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