Entertainment & Arts

Ennio Morricone: 'I regret saying no to Clint Eastwood'

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Media captionEnnio Morricone tells Will Gompertz he did not compose for films directed by Clint Eastwood out of loyalty to Sergio Leone

Renowned Italian film composer Ennio Morricone said he regrets saying "no" to Clint Eastwood.

The 86-year-old wrote the score to the 1960s trilogy of spaghetti Westerns by Sergio Leone, which saw Eastwood rise to fame.

But Morricone said he turned down the chance to write for films Eastwood directed "out of respect" to Leone.

"I missed a great opportunity and I am really sorry," he told the BBC's arts editor Will Gompertz.

Morricone, or Maestro, as he is known in his hometown of Rome, added: "When Clint called me, I said no out of respect to Sergio Leone, not because I did not like the movies that he did."

Although he had first met Sergio Leone when they were at school, it was not until 25 years later that their professional partnership began, on a Fistful of Dollars in 1964.

"Gradually over time, he as a director and me as a composer, we improved and reached our best, in my opinion, in Once Upon A Time In America," the composer said.

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Image caption Ennio Morricone was awarded an honorary Oscar in 2007 by Clint Eastwood

They went on to work together on Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) and Leone's last credited western, A Fistful of Dynamite (1971).

"After this relationship with Leone I was able to suggest to other directors how to respond to the music

"Often directors ask me for pieces lasting 20 seconds and in 20 seconds people do not understand - it is music that is wasted," he added.

Morricone, who will resume his European tour next year, said that being a composer is a "difficult profession" and he gets worried by every film he works on.

"There are ideas that crop up immediately but the majority arrive late.

"There is no film that has not worried me. I was worried for all of them, it is a difficult profession," the composer said.

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Image caption Ennio Morricone has received 56 awards for his musical scores

Some of Morricone's most memorable scores include Roland Joffe's The Mission (1986), Giuseppe Tornatore's Cinema Paradiso (1988), and Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill (2003) and Inglourious Basterds (2009).

Over the years, the Italian Maestro has received 56 awards, including five Baftas, but missed out on Oscars for Days of Heaven (1979) and The Mission (1986).

In 2007, he was awarded an honorary Oscar, presented by Clint Eastwood, for "his magnificent and multifaceted contributions to the art of film music".

Image copyright Rex Features
Image caption Morricone wrote the musical scores for some of Leone's westerns such as Once Upon a Time in the West

The Italian composer said that winning awards is a "celebration of the cinema".

"They are great to advertise the cinema, they are important for those who receive them but most of all for the cinema, it is a celebration of the cinema."

Despite working in an American-dominated industry, Morricone has never moved to Hollywood, remaining rooted in Rome, where he was born in 1928.

"I have been tempted. I was invited to live in Hollywood, I said no. I am better here," he said.

After a year of recovery from a spinal injury, Morricone's My Life in Music, World Tour will resume on 1 February 2015 in Amsterdam, stopping in 20 European cities.

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