Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Why Lightyear Is Composer Michael Giacchino's 'Love Letter' From His '12-Year-Old Heart' - Exclusive

How do you capture a feeling from your childhood through music? That's exactly the question Michael Giacchino asked himself when starting work on the score for "Lightyear," Pixar's latest animated feature and a prequel to the beloved "Toy Story" franchise. The Oscar-winning composer of Pixar's "Up," Giacchino is no stranger to creating music for everything from touching animated films to sci-fi extravaganzas and from superhero action bonanzas to moving dramedies. But even with the scores for huge films like "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story," "Spider-Man: No Way Home," and "Jurassic World: Dominion" under his belt, Giacchino was challenged by "Lightyear" to create music that evoked his youthful moviegoing experiences.

The movie demonstrates how perfectly Giacchino rose to that challenge. He's created a score that encapsulates the wonder of space travel and the heroic nature of the character of Buzz Lightyear (Chris Evans) — while also making the character feel deeply human by providing the soundtrack for his frustration, sadness, and confusion. The score offers the perfect aural backdrop to the film's story while also offering memorable musical themes that can stand on their own. Giacchino spoke to Looper about how recollections of his childhood helped him create music for "Lightyear" that goes to infinity and beyond.

An homage to the films Giacchino grew up with

In Pixar lore, "Lightyear" is the film that brought the character of Buzz Lightyear to popular attention and the favorite movie of Andy from "Toy Story." Yet while the film inspired Andy to get a Buzz Lightyear action figure, the Buzz in "Lightyear" is an entirely different character and an individual uniquely able to appeal to kids like Andy. That backstory is one Michael Giacchino took to heart when developing the music for the film.

"[Creating the "Lightyear" score] was more about thinking about the movies that I grew up loving, all the sci-fi and adventure movies that I ate like sugar cereal growing up," Giacchino shared. "It was a way to reflect back on those and understand how they [made] me feel when I was a kid and I was in a theater, and I was like, 'I want that feeling for this movie.' That's what I want. I want, somehow, for kids today to have the experience I had when I was going to see movies at that age. It's honestly a love letter to everything I grew up with, and it was so wonderful."

Giacchino said he also appreciated the freedom offered to him by the knowledge that "Lightyear" was independent of the "Toy Story" franchise. "Whenever you get a chance to do something where there's no ties to anything else and you can create what you want to do, you go for it. It's such a wonderful challenge and gift to be able to do that, and I felt like this movie gave us that," he explained. 

"Even though it was with a character that we knew, it was a different version of that character. It was a different world for that character. It was the real Buzz Lightyear, so we were able to take it in directions that [we] might not have, had we'd been dealing with the actual toy Buzz Lightyear, which is a very different character whom I love as well and who was lucky enough to have had Randy Newman write all his music for him, because Randy is one of the best. It was a fun challenge to go for it and create something fun that came truly from my 12-year-old heart."

"Lightyear" is currently playing in theaters.