Michael Giacchino Interview: ‘Incredibles 2’ composer
Lots of people were excited about a sequel to “The Incredibles” (2004), but Michael Giacchino was not one of them. The Oscar (“Up,” 2009), Grammy (“Ratatouille,” 2007; “Up”) and Emmy (“Lost”) winner revealed at Gold Derby’s Meet the Experts: Composers panel, moderated by this author (watch the exclusive video above), that he got into a good-natured screaming match with director Brad Bird and producer John Walker over the project.
“My whole thing was that, look, that one worked. I don’t know how it worked, but it worked. Why do you want to risk this? What if this one we do sucks? What if it’s not a worthy follow-up to that. That was my big point,” Giacchino said. “Brad was really adamant. He was like, ‘No, we can do something new with this, man. We can do something new. And if we don’t do it, someone else is going to do it for us and we can’t let that happen.’ And that was our whole conversation.”
In all seriousness, there was no way he wasn’t going to score “Incredibles 2,” Giacchino said. And this time he took a more free-wheeling approach. Giacchino, who made his feature film scoring debut with “The Incredibles,” doesn’t rewatch his films or listen to his scores again after they’re released unless he has to, and he chose not to revisit “The Incredibles” despite having to build on the original score.
“I grew up with such a love for John Barry, Hoyt Curtin and Henry Mancini and all of these greats who were writing some of the most incredible jazz orchestral music of the day. I remember on the first one I really leaned into that in a big way,” he said. “But on this one, I didn’t go back to listen to any of those scores that I referenced for the first one. I didn’t go back to listen to what I wrote. I just sort of wrote what I wanted to write on this one. I just felt like, OK, now it’s my turn to write what I want to write.”
The “Incredibles 2” score maintains the original’s spy jazz feel, but Giacchino’s ultimate goal was to “experiment and have fun.” He reveled in writing a larger theme for Elastigirl (Holly Hunter), his favorite character who’s the main focus of the sequel. And then there were those three cheeky jingles he penned for Elastigirl, Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) and Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson).
“That was actually a really fun thing to do on this,” he said. “We were talking about this early, early on about these guys probably would’ve had TV shows based on their characters. They’re famous superheroes. It stands to reason that there would’ve been some sort of entertainment based around them. And if Mr. Incredible had a show, what would that be? And what would that theme be for that show?”
But actually composing those jingles turned into a whole other adventure. “I was working on ‘Jurassic World’ at the time and I totally forgot I had to do these things,” Giacchino revealed. “The night before the recording session, I totally forgot to do them. I literally woke up at 5 in the morning, I freaked out. I was like, ‘Oh my god!’ Because they were recording at like 10 o’clock. I woke up remembering. It was like one of those nightmares you wake up from screaming. And I was like, ‘I gotta go, I gotta leave.’ … And I wrote them all in that morning within an hour.”