You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Giacchino & Abrams: Separated at birth?

Chemistry between duo feels like blood tie

Composer a storyteller first | Giacchino & Abrams | Giacchino in tune with toons | Giacchino scores with games, rides | Composer honored for work with non-profit

An email on Feb. 15, 2001, changed Michael Giacchino’s life. It was from writer-director J.J. Abrams, then preparing to shoot the pilot for ABC’s “Alias.” He liked Giacchino’s music for the videogame “Medal of Honor” and wondered if the composer might be interested in talking about working on the Jennifer Garner spy series.

For the about-to-be-frequent collaborators, it was as if they were two peas nestled in the same pod.

“Though we didn’t grow up together, it feels like we did,” says Abrams from the West Virginia set of his next film, “Super 8,” which Giacchino will score. “We have all the same (cultural) references.”

Their work together includes five seasons of “Alias,” six seasons of “Lost” (the pilot won a music Emmy), “Mission: Impossible III,” the “Star Trek” reboot and pilots for various TV series including “Fringe,” “Six Degrees,” “What About Brian” and the current “Undercovers.”

“He’s able to do musically what I can only dream of doing,” says Abrams. “He’s able to elevate the moment, emphasize the right thing, convey the emotions of the character or sequence, better than anyone I’ve ever seen.”

Abrams so trusts Giacchino’s judgment that he runs early cuts by the composer to get his reaction. And during the multiweek process of writing a feature-film score, Abrams will look to Giacchino for clues about whether specific scenes are working. “When something is hard to score, without a lot of trial and error, it’s because there is something fundamentally wrong with the piece,” says Abrams. “It’s an advantage to have someone as smart as he is, in terms of character and story, working with you from the outset.”

Giacchino quickly joined Abrams’ close-knit circle of friends, which has led to other assignments. Abrams produced “Cloverfield,” directed by Matt Reeves, and while that film had no traditional score (Giacchino wrote an end-title “overture” that was an homage to Japanese-monster-movie music), it did lead to his scoring Reeves’ current horror film “Let Me In.”

One scene in the drama — about a 12-year-old boy who befriends a child vampire — played fine, Reeves says, but then Giacchino added music: “Suddenly, this scene was so tender and heartbreaking,” he says. “I was just stunned that he found a tone that I didn’t even know was there. That’s what he does: He finds what’s lurking under the surface and brings it up.”

And then there’s that other Abrams creation, “Lost.” After a difficult schedule last year, during which “Up,” “Star Trek” and “Land of the Lost” wound up with conflicting post-production schedules, Giacchino decided to take some time off — with a sole exception: doing the last season of “Lost.”

“Of everything I’ve done,” says Giacchino, “I feel like ‘Lost’ is the show that just allowed me to be me. I wasn’t writing in some sort of style that fit a particular story; ‘Lost’ was purely what I felt, musically.”

Says “Lost” executive producer Damon Lindelof: “Michael’s music was the one character on ‘Lost’ we never considered killing off. And like the other characters on the show, it grew, changed and evolved into something that was nothing short of poetic. Our writing aspired to achieve what Michael did all along: attain a sense of unique and dramatic beauty that stays with the audience long after the show has ended.”

More Film

  • Naomie Harris Shriek

    'Venom 2': Naomie Harris Eyed to Play Villain Shriek Opposite Tom Hardy (EXCLUSIVE)

    Naomie Harris is in talks to play Spider-Man villain Shriek in Sony’s “Venom 2,” with Tom Hardy returning in the title role. Andy Serkis is on board to direct, with Michelle Williams and Woody Harrelson also reprising their roles. The original film was a huge hit for the studio when it premiered in 2018, grossing [...]

  • David Weisman

    David Weisman, 'Kiss of the Spider Woman' Producer, Dies at 77

    David Weisman, who was Oscar-nominated as producer of “Kiss of the Spider Woman,” died Oct. 9 in Los Angeles due to complications from West Nile virus. He was 77. Weisman had a long career as a graphic designer and photographer and co-wrote and co-directed cult classic “Ciao! Manhattan” about 1960s icon Edie Sedgwick. Born in [...]

  • First still from the set of

    Composer Michael Giacchino on Setting the Right Tone for 'Jojo Rabbit'

    Michael Giacchino is a widely respected film composer, with an Oscar and a Grammy for “Up” and an Emmy for “Lost,” as well as a Grammy for “Ratatouille.” He is stirring up Oscar buzz again with his score for Fox Searchlight’s “Jojo Rabbit,” written and directed by Taika Waititi. Giacchino talked with Variety about the [...]

  • Michael Giacchino Film Composer

    How the 'Jojo Rabbit' Production Team Created a Child's View of Nazi Germany

    When picturing Nazi Germany during World War II, most people think of black-and-white or sepia-toned images of drab cities. For the cinematographer and production designer of “Jojo Rabbit,” a film set squarely in that time and place, it became clear that the color palette of the era was far more varied than they could have [...]

  • Robert Duvall (Oberst Kilgore)

    Studiocanal Steps Up its Heritage Game in Germay Via Arthaus Classics

    LYON, France – Continuing its devotion to heritage film in Germany, Studiocanal is bringing classic movies back into cinemas while also releasing newly restored DVD/Blu-ray collections of beloved titles. The leading producer-distributor enjoyed a major hit this summer with the one-day re-release of Francis Ford Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now: Final Cut,” which scored 12,000 admissions in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content