Composer John Williams feted by Hollywood elite at AFI ceremony
By Rollo Ross LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Hollywood’s top stars such as Steven Spielberg, Harrison Ford and J.J. Abrams came together on Thursday to fete John Williams, the prolific composer of some of cinema’s most memorable scores including “Star Wars” and “Jaws,” as he was honored by the American Film Institute.
Williams, 84, received the lifetime achievement award at a star-studded gala dinner hosted by AFI, an organization that aims to preserve the heritage of American cinema. “Tomorrow morning, when I’m back at work, I will try to deserve all of this,” Williams said as he accepted the award. Williams is the first composer to receive the AFI’s lifetime achievement award. Williams, a graduate of New York’s Julliard School, has more than 150 film scores to his name, many which have become embedded into pop culture, such as “Jurassic Park,” besides the “Indiana Jones” and “Harry Potter” series. He is known for frequently collaborating with filmmaker Steven Spielberg, one of several directors and film stars including Tom Hanks and George Lucas who joined in giving the veteran composer a standing ovation when he was announced on stage. “You take our movies, many of them about our most impossible dreams and, through your musical genius, you make them real and everlasting for billions and billions of people,” Spielberg said in his speech. The composer has won five Oscars out of 50 nominations over his seven-decade career. His score for 1977’s “Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope” was named the most memorable film score of all time by the AFI in 2005. Williams was nominated for a best original score Oscar this year for composing the score for Disney’s highly anticipated blockbuster hit film, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” Other recipients of the AFI lifetime achievement award include Spielberg, Hanks, Alfred Hitchcock, Elizabeth Taylor, Jane Fonda and most recently, comedic actor Steve Martin. (Reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)