Rogue One Composer Was Terrified To Take The Baton From John Williams

Anyone looking closely at the credits for Rogue One will notice a few peculiarities. For one, John Williams is buried deep in the credits, contributing his classic theme and nothing else. For the first time in the history of Star Wars feature films, the score was composed by someone other than Williams. If you looked into this issue earlier in the year, you might have noticed the name Alexandre Desplat, but France’s busiest film composer (an Oscar-winner for The Grand Budapest Hotel) was forced to drop out due to scheduling conflicts and/or creative differences. (You never really know.)

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Pixar and J.J. Abram regular Michael Giacchino (an Oscar-winner for Up) ultimately landed the job—when he least expected it. “It all happened so quickly, and it was not on my radar at all,” he told The Hollywood Reporter. “During the last two recording sessions for Doctor Strange, I was thinking, ‘Gee, I wonder what Alexandre 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.”

Filling the shoes of a composer as esteemed as John Williams is a massive responsibility, but Giacchino had no time to obsess over this. “I had four and a half weeks to write it all,” he explained. “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.’”

Once Giacchino’s composing duties were complete and he entered the studio, his mindset abruptly changed. “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.”

To hear Giacchino’s score in action, check out Rogue One in theatres now. If you need yet another reason to see this acclaimed instant blockbuster, check out Mark Hamill’s Twitter rave below.