Theodore Shapiro

Guest Artist

From the upbeat, jazzy sounds of The Devil Wears Prada to the jungle-adventure send-up of Tropic Thunder and the sentiment of last year’s hit Marley & Me, composer Theodore Shapiro has consistently delivered memorable music for some of the funniest movies of the past five years. But in a corollary to the old acting bromide “dying is easy, comedy is hard,” Shapiro steps gingerly when adding music to the antics of a Jack Black, Ben Stiller or Owen Wilson: “If you’re ever making a gesture that gives the audience permission to laugh, you have to be very judicious with it,” he explains, “because the worst possible thing you can do is to push the comedy too hard.”

His careful touch has made him a sought-after collaborator for some of Hollywood’s leading comedy directors: David Frankel (Prada, Marley), Stiller (Tropic Thunder), John Hamburg (I Love You, Man, Along Came Polly), Mike Judge (Idiocracy) and, most recently, Harold Ramis (Year One). Shapiro, 37, is a rarity in modern film music: a classically trained composer (bachelor’s degree from Brown, master’s from Juilliard) who, despite commissions for classical works (including a well-received piano concerto in 1999), decided he’d rather be working in film.

Shapiro followed the usual route for a fledgling film composer: low-budget, independent films, often made by friends, one of which, Karyn Kusama’s Girlfight, won major awards at the Sundance Film Festival and led to a two-film collaboration with celebrated playwright (and sometime film director) David Mamet, on State and Main and Heist. Director Todd Phillips liked Shapiro’s thriller score for Heist and hired him for his 2003 comedy Old School. Its success, in turn, led to Shapiro’s current status as Hollywood’s go-to composer for edgy comedic fare: Starsky and Hutch, Dodgeball, Fun with Dick and Jane and others.

Prominent works as a Composer

  • 2016 – Zoolander 2 (filming)
  • 2013 – The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
  • 2013 – We’re the Millers
  • 2008 – Tropic Thunder
  • 2008 – Marley & Me
  • 2006 – The Devil Wears Prada

Recent Awards

  • 2013 – International Film Music Critics Award (IFMCA) Best Original Score for a Comedy Film “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”
  • 2013 – BMI Film & TV Awards
    • Film Music “Hope Springs”
    • Film Music “The Campaign”
  • 2009 – BMI Film & TV Awards
    • Tropic Thunder
    • Marley & Me
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