Gary Rydstrom Brings 'Strange Magic' to Life

As part of our whirlwind trip to Skywalker Ranch (She's at it again!) we had the privilege of interviewing the director of the film, Strange Magic.


Director Gary Rydstrom may not have a household name like George Lucas, but the man has some serious film credits to his name. 


Gary Rydstrom's name is practically synonymous with Skywalker Sound. He has won 7 Academy Awards along with other various and sundry awards in his field. You will find his name on the credits of such films as Finding Nemo, Saving Private Ryan, and Minority Report.  

Strange Magic is Gary’s first feature film as a director. And we bloggers had a great time talking to him about what that was like.


I loved Gary's sense of humor and the laid back ease with which he talked about doing films and his career.

You’ve had an incredible career. You’ve received seven Academy Awards for sound design and editing.

"And if I win three more, I can open a bowling alley."

See what I mean?


About what attracted him to Strange Magic. 

"I was really attracted to the use of song to help tell a story. This was such a great idea to tell a love story.  And if you think about the songs in the movie that are love songs, there aren’t that many positive love songs because love is hard, it’s not always happy." 


About love. (Did I mention that this film is a love story?)

"If you think about it, it, we are really surprised I think by how we fall in love and with who, it comes at us as a surprise.  When you reveal your true self, then the other person falls in love with that true self.  

Often we try to hide that true self, because you think it’s odd or different or just not in the norm. you hide it because you think, who would fall in love with that.  But then we fall in love with that what makes you unique."


About the voice cast.

"Casting is pretty key for a movie like this – you have to find people who both act and sing. Alan Cumming, both actor and singer amazing, Evan Rachel Wood is as good a singer as she is an actress. Sam Palladio who plays Roland is an amazing singer, as well as a very funny actor. And then Kristin Chenoweth – I was in the room with her as I was with all the actors when they were singing their songs and when she hit some of those high notes in Love Is Strange, it was like my glasses broke – it was amazing."

About the songs and karma. (Did I mention this was a musical?)

"The karma and the irony of this movie for me is that I did have a long career, in this building mostly, a career as a sound designer, doing sound effects for movies. And then by the end, I found that I often felt at odds with the composer, so it was kind of a fight between the composer and I to have our stuff heard. So I thought of it as karmic revenge from the universe that I get to direct a feature film here and it’s a musical.

But I was really attracted to it as George is.  And American Graffiti is one of my favorite movies.  The use of song to help tell a story was really attractive to me and this was such a great idea to tell a love story. If you think about the songs in the movie that are love songs, there aren’t that many positive love songs, which I always like to point out. Because love is hard, it’s not always happy. But I love that part of it and making a musical was really fun."

Gary Rydstrom is so prolific and talented as a director. Not only that, he obviously has a history of making George Lucas happy. Pretty impressive, if you ask me.

Strange Magic opened in theaters everywhere on January 23rd.

{I was invited to pre-screen the movie by Disney and Touchstone Pictures. All opinions are my own.}