Never lose composure - Patrick Doyle interview

After surviving leukaemia, Patrick Doyle knows he can't get carried away by Hollywood, writes Anna Millar

SOMETIMES having Robert De Niro as a fan, Alan Rickman round for dinner and Ewan McGregor in your bed simply isn't enough.

"Composing the music for Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire made me marginally cooler," laughs twice Oscar-nominated Scottish composer Patrick Doyle. "But it's still: 'Dad, don't try and dance ok?' My kids find the whole celebrity thing, refreshingly, under-whelming," laughs the 56-year-old.

"That said," he admits, "my wife wasn't objecting when Ewan (McGregor] rented out our Beverly Hills apartment with his family. We obviously weren't there, but she could still say that he had slept in her bed for three months."

Long before Quentin Tarantino paved the way for a hip new age of movie soundtracks, Uddingston-born Doyle was one of Hollywood's most prolific composers, working with some of its most influential players, from Al Pacino and De Niro to Brian De Palma and Robert Altman, on Sense And Sensibility (for which he was nominated for an Academy Award), Carlito's Way, Bridget Jones's Diary, Gosford Park, Donnie Brasco and the aforementioned Harry Potter.

In his latest project he is providing the soundtrack for animated 3D monster, Igor, starring John Cusack.

"While others have been typecast into drama or comedy or musicals, I have not," says Doyle. "I never stop being grateful for it."

Growing up in Lanarkshire, as one of 13 children, Doyle quickly learned that to get noticed he had to speak up. "I was brought up in a very Scottish, pre-karaoke, house," he laughs. "Both my parents were musicians, so there was never a time when music wasn't there; we were surrounded by it."

Inspired by the talent around him he joined the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama to study piano and singing. Before long he was spotted by Scottish playwright John Byrne and offered a part in the stage production of The Slab Boys; then later a small part on hit TV comedy Tutti Frutti.

"It was such a special time in Glasgow. I was involved in the Citizens' Theatre, meeting people like Alan (Rickman]. It was that which really opened the door to me heading south and joining Kenneth Branagh's Renaissance Company."

It was this professional relationship with Branagh that would catapult Doyle's career; his collaboration with him on Henry V in 1989 earning Doyle an Ivor Novello for best film theme.

Ten good years followed, jetting around the world and working with some of Hollywood's biggest players before illness struck in 1997. Aged 44, Doyle was diagnosed with leukaemia.

During the "darkest time" of his life he immersed himself in the love of his family and his other great passion: music. While dealing with the painful indignity of chemotherapy and battling the depression that ensued, the composer found solace writing music, even completing a soundtrack during his recovery. Nurses and doctors would watch in wonder as "dear friends" such as Emma Thompson, Robbie Coltrane, Branagh and Greg Wise would visit.

They were there again, with Brit pack royalty such as Dame Judi Dench and Derek Jacobi, last year when 10 years on from his illness and now in remission, Doyle held a charity concert and raised thousands for Leukaemia Research at the Albert Hall.

"It put things in perspective, but I had never taken any of it for granted anyway. I remember once when I had to teach Robert De Niro a little bit of music on a film, we got to talking about what makes Glasgow great. He compared it to New York. There's honesty there, even today. It's so alive, and so while I have always felt at home in New York and LA, the notion of celebrity is lost on me; that was there before I got ill and it's there now."

Happy to spend his time away from the Hollywood glare, Doyle lives in Surrey with his "wonderfully talented" children and wife, but still enjoys taking time out with them at their flat in Glasgow's West End. He hopes to find some time there in the coming weeks to work on the two solo piano albums and a string compilation that he is currently working on.

"Anyone will tell you that you are only as good as your last job, I never lose sight of that. I've met some incredible actors, directors and musicians in my career and the truth is most, like me, are just normal people trying to do their job. The great thing is, you never quite know what's around the corner. Each day I try to remind myself that the fun has only just begun."

• Igor is on general release from Friday