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Michael Giacchino Interview: Lightyear | Screen Rant

Lightyear is taking audiences to infinity and beyond this weekend, as the new Pixar film Toy Story to the man behind the toy that inspired a generation. Touted as Andy’s favorite film in-universe, Lightyear is a spin-off of the franchise that began in 1995, but it acts as part of the world of the first film, telling the origin story of the character that became the Buzz Lightyear toy.

For that reason, Lightyear takes on a space opera feel, heralding the brave space explorer and replacing the iconic Tim Allen with a fresh new voice to tackle the character: Chris Evans. Lightyear also features voice performances from Keke Palmer, Peter Sohn, Taika Waititi, Dale Soules, James Brolin, and Uzo Aduba. But perhaps the most epic part of all is the score, composed by the legendary Michael Giacchino, who has worked on every franchise in the universe from The Batman to Jurassic World: Dominion.


Related: All 5 Pixar Movies & Shows Releasing After Lightyear

Screen Rant spoke to Giacchino about the influences that got incorporated into Lightyear‘s score, his approach to Easter eggs, and his directorial work on the upcoming Marvel special Werewolf By Night.


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Screen Rant: You’ve done Pixar before, you’ve done Star Wars before – shout out to the Rogue One score – and this feels like a blending of the two. How do you approach something like this?

Michael Giacchino: This was totally a blending of all the space opera movies and TV shows that I loved growing up. It’s Star Trek, it’s Star wars, it’s Aliens. It’s everything. It’s all of those things mashed together in a great little love letter to the universe of all the things that inspired me growing up. In that sense, it was so much fun to be able to just dive into that world, and to have characters as solid as these in a film. Between Buzz and Izzy and Zurg and Sox and all of those things; to be able to play in that world is the best.

I love Toy Story. Toy Story is amazing. And this is a corner of the universe that we were able to kind of go into and still do anything we wanted to do. We weren’t tied to anything from the past. This was all new; this world. That was really one of the most fun aspects, and working with friends who are deeply geeky about all of the sci-fi stuff that I loved growing up. So, it was just like playing with your friends. It was fun.

Speaking of deeply geeky, do you do Easter eggs in your scores? Is there anything in Lightyear that we could listen for?

Michael Giacchino: In Lightyear, there is one light reference to the old Star Trek series. It sort of happens in the first five minutes of the movie, so you can look for that. It’s subtle, but it’s there.

But I will always hide little things here and there, and it’s always fun online to see people go, “Hey, did you hear this theme in that? Cuz that was weird.” They pick it up, and then you find out who the true fans are; the ones who actually can identify these little things that you put in there. You’re like, “No one’s ever gonna even notice this thing,” and then next thing you know, someone’s like, “Hey, wait a minute!” So, people listen. They do listen.

Do you have a favorite of all time Easter egg that fans have really gravitated towards?

Michael Giacchino: There was a fun one on Lost. There was an episode where they’re dealing with this submarine, and there was a motif in an old video game I did called Medal of Honor. There was a submarine in there, and it had its own motif and its own theme. And I sort of hinted at that in Lost.

Then I thought, “No one will ever notice it.” But then the next day after it aired online, a bunch of people were like, “Did you hear that thing? It sounded like the thing from Medal of Honor.” And I was like, “Okay!”

At some point, you put it out there. It’s for fun; let’s just see if they notice, and they do. But there’s always a reason for the connections. If I do that, there’s always a thematic reason for it. It’s never just because; There’s always a reason behind it.

One thing I noticed that I don’t know if I’ve ever seen before is having the full orchestra in the credits of the movie. I thought that was really cool. Do you know what went into that?

Michael Giacchino: It’s just the decision that has to be made. Someone just has to say, “Yes, let’s do it,” and then we can do it. We have done it a couple of times over the years – not many, and far less than we actually have done it – but I’m very proud of that.

Because when you think about the musicians on these scores, these musicians have trained their entire lives to be as good as they are for you to be able to just throw any music you want at them, and for them to be able to play it perfectly without any problem. That’s an intense, intense amount of work it takes to be able to get that good at what you do. The fact that their names are usually not up there is a crime to me.

Music is such a powerful part of what makes movies work, both sound in general and the music. For them to be excluded has always made me sad, so when we’re able to do it, I love it. It’s great.

I thought that was really cool. I was at the premiere, but I think that moment got the biggest cheers from the audience.

Michael Giacchino: Yeah. It was probably because I had invited a bunch of them there. So, there was people there. It means a lot to them to be able to see it. Usually, they’re nameless.

You’re directing Marvel’s upcoming Halloween special, which is really soon, and we really don’t know much about it. Is there any updates you can give us?

Michael Giacchino: We kept it pretty secret, but…

You’re looking off to the side, like…

Michael Giacchino: We’re working hard on it. We’re still in the middle of it, and you’ll learn a lot more very soon… Is what I can say.

Been fun, though. I’ve been having fun.

And you’ve seen all of Thor: Love and Thunder, I’m assuming. I cannot wait.

Michael Giacchino: Oh, yeah. Many, many times I’ve had to watch it. Yes. [Laughs]

Lightyear Synopsis


Buzz and Diaz stand outside a closed door looking at something offscreen

Legendary space ranger Buzz Lightyear embarks on an intergalactic adventure alongside ambitious recruits Izzy, Mo, Darby, and his robot companion, Sox. As this motley crew tackles their toughest mission yet, they must learn to work together as a team to escape the evil Zurg and his dutiful robot army that are never far behind.

Check out our interview with Lightyear star Chris Evans as well.

More: What The Lightyear Actors Look Like In Real Life

Lightyear arrives in theaters June 17.

  • Lightyear (2022)Release date: Jun 17, 2022

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