Now, you wouldn’t necessarily recognise him if walking down the street, but chances are, you’ll be an admirer of Michael Giacchino’s work, as the composer behind soundtracks that have enriched our favourite films, such as Star Trek, Super 8, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Jurassic World.

But he’s most renowned for his contribution to Pixar’s remarkable back catalogue, writing the music for the likes of Up (yes, he’s the man who has made you cry uncontrollably), Inside Out and Ratatouille – and it’s the latter we discussed with the renowned composer. With the film showing once again, at London’s Royal Albert Hall, with a live orchestra present, it gave us an opportunity to speak to Giacchino about the project, and his own memories from what was an indelible experience.

It must be an incredible prospect to know that – at a packed out Royal Albert Hall – there will be people settling down to watch this film and revel in your score?

It is. I had the opportunity to experience Royal Albert Hall last May when we did the UK Premiere of Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness there. It is such a beautiful venue filled with musical history, it was quite overwhelming. We had such a blast, their organisation is terrific and the London crowds are some of the greatest supporters of film music projects in the world. I am thrilled that Ratatouille will now take on another life in concert halls and that people will be able to enjoy the score with live musicians, in particular for those who may never have been to a live orchestral concert before.

It must be quite refreshing too, that this many people are here to appreciate the music from a movie. Do you feel it can often unfairly ignored?

No. I see my role as a composer as one part of the filmmaking team. There are so many artists that work on any one film and no individual really can take all the credit. Filmmaking is a group art form, and that’s one of the reasons why I love being in this business. The one thing that I do hope people take notice of is the musicians themselves, they may sometimes be overlooked.  This is an opportunity for people to see that there is an entire orchestra of 90 musicians that played their hearts out to make the film come alive.

So what’s your process? Pixar will come to you and say – “we want you to compose the score for Ratatouille” – what do you then do? What’s the first step?

I learn about the story. In the case of my recent Pixar films, I know about the script many years in advance because the directors are friends of mine, and we’ve been discussing their projects since the beginning. I guess it is somewhat of an advantage because the story has been percolating in my sub-conscious and by the time they finally have a cut for me to watch, remember Pixar films take up to five years to make, there are ideas that have been marinating for some time. After screening the film, I will write a 10-12 minute suite that expresses how I felt emotionally when watching it. Then the director and I sit down together to listen to it and see if we are on the same page musically, stylistically, etc. At that point, I go back and score the whole film, and they come and sit with me and we watch it together. It’s a very fluid relationship. We work together, making changes, tweaking things here and there…even up to the day of the session.

Do you need to have seen a fair amount of the film to be able to compose for a movie, or can you achieve a lot based solely on the screenplay, and conversations with the director?

It’s a combination of both, as I described above. But I did have the opportunity to compose Jupiter Ascending in a totally unique way. The Wachowskis gave me character and location descriptions and just wanted me to compose before they even started shooting the film. I wrote about 80 minutes of music in movement form for them. They used this music to cut the film, instead of using a temp track, and they gave it to the actors to listen to while filming. Of course after the film was cut, we had to go back and make adjustments, but it was very liberating to approach a project that way.

RatatouilleIs there a difference in your approach when composing a score for a family film such as Ratatouille, as opposed to a picture aimed at an older audience, like Jurassic World?

Not at all. Nor is there a difference for the filmmaker really. You just want to tell the best story that you can. That’s what I do with my music.

When you watch films back you’ve worked on, are you able to just immerse yourself in the tale and enjoy it as any audience member would, or is it too distracting hearing your music throughout?

Of course you always hear things that you might do differently, but that’s part of the creative process, at some point you have to let go. I can sit back and enjoy.

Having won an Oscar, Ratatouille is still considered to be one of Pixar’s finest – what do you think it is about this movie that allows for it to still be be shown in front of big crowds, almost a decade after its release?

Ratatouille is such a timeless story that has universal appeal. One of my favourite scenes in the film, which was beautifully directed by Brad Bird, is when Remy, a rat who wants to be a chef, climbs to the top of the roof and realises that all along he has been living in the culinary capital of the world. It’s such a beautiful moment for anyone who has had a dream that seemed so improbable and yet…there it is, just out of reach, maybe not nearly as impossible to attain as you had imagined.

Pixar persistently make wonderful movies, you must be so thrilled to be a part of that family. Does it feel like you are involved in something quite special?

Yes, they are a very special group of people. I am honoured to be a part of their family and to have been able to contribute in some small way to the Pixar world.

Talking of which, my favourite ever piece of music you’ve composed in Married Life in Up (makes me cry every single time) – what inspired that piece? And when you finished, did you instantly think – that’s pretty good?

When I saw that scene for the first time I was emotionally wasted…without the music. This is the story of all of us. We find partners, we create a life, things change, and we have to move on. I don’t know if I thought ‘that’s pretty good,’ but I did feel it felt right.

Star Trek Beyond is the next film out that you’ve worked on – excited about its release? How does it compare to J.J. Abrams work on the franchise – is Justin Lin’s approach quite different?

I am very excited about the release next summer, which coincides with the 50th Anniversary of Star Trek by the way. I love what J.J. has done with the story, and I am confident that Justin is going to do a terrific job and look forward to collaborating with him. They are shooting right now, so I haven’t seen anything, but all reports are  positive. I can’t wait to get a look.

And finally, do you think we will see a Ratatouille 2 in the future – and if so, is it a project you’d be keen on getting involved in?

You know – there has to be a REASON to tell a new story with the same characters.  As of right now – it feels as though Remy’s story is perfectly told as it stands.  But who knows – maybe someone will figure out that special reason to tell the next chapter in his life.  We’ll just have to cross that bridge when and if it ever presents itself.

Ratatouille is playing at The Royal Albert Hall on Wednesday 28th October. You can purchase tickets, and view information about the event, here.