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Michael Giacchino on the challenges of crafting the score for Rogue One

Michael Giacchino Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Gareth Edwards had tapped Alexandre Desplat (GODZILLA) to compose the score for ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY, but by September it was revealed that he had departed the project and was to be replaced by Michael Giacchino (STAR TREK BEYOND). At the time it was said that the reason for the switch was due to the ROGUE ONE reshoots, which unfortunately pushed the scoring schedule back to the point where Desplat was no longer available. With the release date quickly approaching, Giacchino certainly had his work cut out for him, but, as he told Entertainment Weekly, he knew that it was something he had to do.

After finishing up the score for DOCTOR STRANGE, the next film on Giacchino's schedule was SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING, so with a little free time between projects, Giacchino and his family were planning on taking a short vacation. However, before they could leave on that vacation, he got the call about ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY.

Literally the last thing I expected I’d be doing this month would be this. I mean we were literally planning a vacation when I got the call asking if I could come and talk to them about it. At the time, it left me with literally four and a half weeks to write. So it was one of those decisions where you’re like, okay, well… And I was talking to my brother about it. He goes, “Oh, come on. You’ve been writing this score since you were 10! You can do this.”

Michael Giacchino admitted that four and a half weeks was not really enough time to write a score, but thankfully, upon viewing the film and enjoying it quite a lot, he had "no lack of ideas or inspiration." If you were hoping for any inside scoop as to why Alexandre Desplat departed, don't look to Giacchino for answers; despite being offered the full story by the filmmakers, Giacchino turned them down as he just wanted to concentrate on the score and leave the drama out of it.

I’ll tell you, I actually don’t know an awful lot about that. [The filmmakers] were like, “Do you want to know what happened?” And my response was, “You know what, when this is all over we can sit and talk and have a drink and you can tell me whatever you want. I’d love to hear the story. But for right now I feel like I’d rather just pretend nothing happened and everything is good and I’m just going to come onto this.” And they were like, “Fair enough, fair enough.” So honestly, I don’t know anything about it other than what was purportedly, you know, “schedule issues.”

In between feeling enormously stressed about the timeline, Giacchino made sure to begin each morning by geeking out about getting to compose a STAR WARS score. As for the film itself, Giacchino wouldn't reveal too many details other than saying that it's like "a really great World War II movie, and I loved that about it," but despite all the action, it was the movie's incredibly emotional heart which really pulled him in.

ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY will also be the first live-action STAR WARS feature not to be scored by John Williams, but his touch won't be entirely absent from Michael Giacchino's score.

I think absolutely there are a couple of times when you want to hit upon something that was from the past. For me, even as a fan, it was about going, “Oh, this particular idea would be great if we did it here. I would want to see that if I were watching a Star Wars movie.” As a kid who grew up with John’s music and who was catapulted in this direction because of what he did, I had a very specific idea of what I wanted to use and how I wanted to use it. That being said, I’d say the score is 95 percent original but with little moments [of Williams’ classic score] here or there to accent. If I were sitting in that seat and I heard that, it would totally raise the hairs on my neck.

ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY will hit theaters on December 16, 2016.

One of my favourite pieces from Giacchino's STAR TREK BEYOND soundtrack.

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