'Rogue One' Composer on Filling John Williams' Shoes, Pleasing Marvel Franchise Fans

Michael Giacchino (left) working on the score for 'Star Trek Beyond.'

Michael Giacchino has made a career out of scoring films with major followings, including the 'Star Wars' standalone, 'Spider-Man:Homecoming,' 'War of the Planet of the Apes,' and Pixar's 'The Incredibles 2.'

Composer Michael Giacchino once might have been resistant to the idea of scoring a Marvel or Star Wars movie after tackling every other major genre franchise from Star Trek to Planet of the Apes to Jurassic Park. But as any Trekkie will tell you, resistance is futile, and late this year Giacchino found himself not only diving into Marvel's Doctor Strange but following it up with the anticipated Star Wars stand-alone Rogue One, which originally was to be scored by Alexandre Desplat (he fell out due to scheduling conflicts). Giacchino took a break to speak with THR between Rogue One and his next geeky gigs, which include Marvel's Spider-Man: Homecoming, War of the Planet of the Apes, the next Jurassic Park sequel and Pixar's The Incredibles 2.

How intimidating is it to be the first person other than John Williams to score a Star Wars film?

It all happened so quickly, and it was not on my radar at all. During the last two recording sessions for Doctor Strange, I was thinking, "Gee, I wonder what Alexandre [Desplat] is going to do for that?" And literally the day I was done recording in London, I was at Pinewood with everyone on Rogue One and they were showing me the film and talking about it, and the next day I had the movie. It was not what I was expecting, and I had four and a half weeks to write it all. My adrenaline just shot up so quickly, and all I was thinking of was getting it done and to a level I would be happy with if I saw it in a theater, because it was Star Wars. I talked to my brother about it, and he just said, "Come on, you've been writing this since you were 10 years old." But the importance of it didn't really hit me until the recording sessions. We were at Fox, and we used the Star Wars main title as a warm-up, to have some fun and test our mics. And when that started playing, I just thought, "Oh my God, this is insane that I get to be doing this." It wasn't until that moment that I really got scared.

How did Doctor Strange get you into the Marvel loop?

When I heard they were making Doctor Strange, I contacted [the producers] and said, "Who's doing this one?" because that one, to me, felt like its own independent movie. It could have been released by anyone, and most people would have thought it was an original idea that had never been done before because most people wouldn't even know that comic character existed. I liked the idea that we were putting something new out there, and that got me really excited. I emailed Kevin Feige [president] at Marvel and said, "I don't know what your plans are, but this is one that I'm really interested in," and that ball just rolled very quickly downhill, and I was on it.

Was there a Marvel aesthetic you were asked to work in musically?

Kevin and I have known each other for a while, and we've tried to find something to work on together that makes sense. Never once did they say to me that this needs to be in line with what they'd done before, and in fact they encouraged me to go in my direction, so there were never any handcuffs put on me.

What was the key to finding the title character musically?

For me, it was getting inside of him — not worrying so much about the magic stuff, more just thinking about who he was as a person, what he lost and then how that loss affected him. For me it's a very sad story, and a lot of the music has this very melancholy feel to it.

This story first appeared in a December standalone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

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