Grammy-award winning songwriter and performer Pharrell Williams came on board Theodore Melfi’s Hidden Figures as a producer and composer alongside Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch. In this interview, conducted by James Kleinmann, he talks about the importance of the story, his own childhood questions which sparked his interest in the film, and explains the story behind one of his most enduring compositions from the film – Running.
Going all the way back to his early childhood, Williams talked about the moments he recalled when he first became involved with the project,
“I used to stare into space as a child, and ask all the questions like ‘How far does that go?’, ‘Where does it end?’, ‘What’s on the other side, if it ends?’ “
Each of the interviews we have conducted with the cast and director of Hidden Figures have their own reasons why they wanted to tell the story. Like Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae and Kevin Costner, Williams too felt a pressing need for the story to be told,
“Three African-American women in the 1960s, who were scientists, engineers and mathematicians… and who were…advanced. We need to know that story. [Those] math(ematics) [who] helped John Glenn to complete his orbit three times around the planet…we need that story told.”
He talked briefly about the nature of his collaboration on the score, singing the praises of Hans Zimmer in particular,
“Hans finds the poetry in the script and is able to convey that score-wise, I had a lot of fun.”
And finally we asked Williams about one of the standout songs he composed and performed for the film’s soundtrack, Running, and how it came about. He explained,
“[It’s about] Katherine’s character and the story – she had a lot of adversity – you think about it, the nature of the 1960s, the physics of it… it was much heavier on Black People in America. And it was twice as hard on Black Women. So, living in a world where the physics were so warped and be a mathematic savant – how do you carry on? How do you keep a smile on your face? How do you keep it going? How are the numbers nor warped or distorted? How do you carry on when you’re living under such conditions – that’s what running was about.”
Hidden Figures is out in UK cinemas tomorrow, you can read our review right here. You can also watch the full interview below.
Pharrell Williams – Hidden Figures Interview
Pharrell Williams performing Running at TIFF2016