An Emmy-winning composer, Javier Navarrete began scoring movies in his native Spain in the mid-'80s. He became known to a broader audience two decades later for his work on the international art-house hit Pan's Labyrinth (2006); his Romantic-styled orchestral score for the film was recognized with Academy Award and Grammy nominations. Navarrete went on to compose music for films such as the big-budget adventure-fantasy Wrath of the Titans (2012) and the indie thriller Greta (2018).
A native of Teruel, Spain, Navarrete began playing his sisters' guitar around the age of 12, later improvising with groups of friends. At 17, he premiered an electronic work in Barcelona, then spent the next decade composing and performing avant-garde concert music. A friend asked him to write the score for Tras el Cristal (In a Glass Cage) when he was in his late twenties. The film made its festival debut in 1986.
After a string of steady work in Spanish cinema in the '90s, including the sci-fi film Atolladero (1991) and horror flick 99.9 (1997), Navarrete collaborated with Mexican filmmaker Guillermo del Toro for the first time on del Toro's third film, 2001's The Devil's Backbone. Following scoring projects including the thrillers Trece Campanadas (Thirteen Chimes, 2002) and Dot the I (2003), Navarrete reunited with del Toro for 2006's Pan's Labyrinth, resulting in an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Score the following year. Navarrete became a Grammy nominee in 2008, when the film was included among the contenders for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media.
Pan's Labyrinth raised his profile internationally, and he soon worked on American films including Fireflies in the Garden (2008), The Hole (2009), and The New Daughter (2009). The U.S.-Spain co-production Wrath of the Titans and the Neil Jordan-directed fantasy-drama Byzantium followed in 2012, the same year Navarrete won an Emmy Award for the HBO biopic Hemingway & Gellhorn (Outstanding Music Composition for a Miniseries, Movie, or Special). He composed the music for the 2015 action-fantasy Zhong Kui: Snow Girl and the Dark Crystal before scoring Neil Jordan's Greta, which had its film festival premiere in 2018 before receiving an international release in 2019. ~ Marcy Donelson