The songwriter will receive the honorary accolade Saturday at the annual Governors Awards, the first in that category to accept the award, saying, “I didn't even has hit yet”
Diane Warren. (Photo by Matt Sayles/A.M.P.A.S. via Getty Images)
Diane Warren was in the recording studio with Sofia Carson to work on her new song “Applause” when she received an unexpected phone call earlier this year. It was David Rubin, the former president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and he had good news: he was going to receive an Oscar.
“I was like, 'No, I won't. . I'm the one who loses all the time,” Warren said in a recent interview with the AP agency. “I was in total disbelief.”
The prolific songwriter had been nominated for Best Original Song at the Oscars 13 times. Her and her 13 times she had gone home empty-handed, most recently at the ceremony earlier this year. Yet Warren, 66, was never distressed or deterred by that statistic. She loved being in the game. But she had begun to wonder if she was ever supposed to have one.
Warren will collect his honorary statuette Saturday at the annual Governors Awards, along with his peers Euzhan Palcy, Peter Weir and Michael J. Fox, who will receive the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. She is the first female composer to receive the award.
“This is the great Oscar,” he said. “And I still want to win one. But the nomination is the victory. This isn't the Grammys with, you know, 50 song categories. There are five songs in a category. Hear your name when they say those nominations? That's like winning the lottery every time.”
She was first nominated for the song “Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now,” which she co-wrote with Albert Hammond for the movie “Mannequin Warren didn't hear his name. He didn't even know the nominations were happening. There were no campaign events or screenings. She just seemed to come out of nowhere.
Some of her most famous Oscar-nominated songs include “Because You Loved Me” from “Up Close and Personal,” “How Do I Live ”, from “Con Air” and “I Don't Want to Miss a Thing”, from “Armageddon”. And she has received a nomination almost every year since 2015
“That was in the old days,” he laughed. “Now I stay up all night. I'm very uncool. And I stay up all night, and I'm happy I'm not cool.”
Warren developed a passion for the power of song in film early on. She recalled “crying” hearing John Barry and Don Black's song for “Born Free” and being moved by Mark London's song for “To Sir with Love.”
“I was moved viscerally,” he said. “Music doesn't go to your brain. It goes to your heart. And do you combine that with the right movie? It's powerful.”.
He was, in other words, a natural fit at the top of his successful career. Some of his most famous Oscar-nominated songs include “Because You Loved Me” from “Up Close and Personal”, “How Do I Live” from “Con Air ” and “I Don't Want to Miss a Thing”, from “Armageddon”. And she has received a nomination almost every year since 2015.
And while she loves all the Oscars, she counts Lady Gaga's 2016 performance of her survivor anthem “Til It Happens to You” from “The Hunting Ground” as one of her favorite performances.
“It was monumental for me,” he said. “She was playing notes and I have no idea how she hit them, but it was very emotional. So when did you get those survivors to stand up when people weren't really talking about it at the time? I don't think there has ever been a better performance for me at the Oscars or almost anywhere else.”
Warren developed a passion for the power of song in movies early on. She recalled “crying” listening to John Barry and Don Black's song for “Born Free” and being moved by Mark London's song for “To Sir with Love”
She also loved playing the piano at the Oscar 2020 when Laura Pausini sang “Io sì (Seen)” from “The Life Ahead”.
“It was incredible,” said Warren. “She's never done anything like this before.”
Above all, Warren loves the Oscars and being a part of that world . And she found it quite moving that she got the call about the award while working on “Applause,” which is included in the film “Tell It Like a Woman,” which is made up of seven short films directed by and about women.
The lyrics, he thought, seemed appropriate for the moment: “Give yourself a round of applause. You deserve it. Give yourself some respect because you've earned it. Give yourself some love because you're worth it. You're worth it. You know, let him know.”
“How crazy is that?” Warren said. “I'm in the room doing that song and I go to the other room because the phone rings and that's it. After all these years of trying to get an Oscar, it's like, wow, what a time, right?”
Now she's just trying to gather her thoughts for her speech and she's pretty I'm sure she'll start crying right away when she takes the stage on Saturday.
“He hasn't even hit me yet,”, Warren said. “I know that she is really going to hit me that night. I don't even know how I'm going to handle that.”
(with information from AP)