Does anyone else get excited when two of their fandoms collide? I do, and the recent episode of Star Wars Oxygen, a podcast all about the music of John Williams in Star Wars, brought together two things near and dear to my heart: Star Wars and Frozen. Songwriter Robert Lopez stopped by to talk with hosts David W. Collins and Jimmy Mac, and though it’s not a surprise to hear about people being into Star Wars—it’s a massive pop culture phenomenon for a reason—it was entertaining to hear just how much of a fan Lopez is. He’s hugely into the franchise, and his work is influenced by Williams and explorations of Williams’ methods.
Lopez stumbled upon Star Wars Oxygen through an article on IGN and the podcast actually helped him figure out next steps with writing songs for Frozen the Musical. He told Collins and Jimmy Mac, “[I] listened to all the back episodes, and it made me realize I’m kind of in a similar position to where John Williams was when he had to do Empire Strikes Back… He had to use the same DNA from Star Wars and expand the glossary of themes. So, listening to you guys deconstruct all of that just got me so hugely inspired to re-investigate and reinvigorate this movie that had already been out for a couple of years.”
The upcoming Frozen musical is slated to head to Broadway in spring 2018, and Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez wrote 15 new songs for it. Lopez touched on the challenges of musical storytelling in a theater rather than in a film and called out a particular connection between Luke Skywalker’s theme and Hans.
“There were characters like Hans—who, spoiler, he is the villain, but he’s played as the hero of the story. [In the film] it’s all done in close up, it’s done with a look and facial expressions that won’t show up in the theater, so we kind of did a Luke Skywalker thing with him. I remember you were talking about the Luke Skywalker thing in the first bunch of episodes [of Star Wars Oxygen], and you were talking about the cue where it’s the homestead, where it’s like Luke at home. You played a soft horn version of his theme. And I thought, ‘Well, what if we give Hans a little meet cute scene and a song about how ‘I’m just here for you’ and play it like that, give him a Luke kind of theme, and tell the audience with that kind of melody, ‘This is the hero.’ Then at the end of the act when he’s leading the town, basically, and in charge, let that be the ‘Main Title’ version of his theme,” Lopez explained.
Those are just a couple of highlights from the 90-minute interview. Lopez also discusses Star Wars music easter eggs in Book of Mormon and Titanic, his visit to the set of Episode VIII, a bit about the writing process for Frozen, and much more. Maybe there’s even a rap involving Jar Jar Binks. It’s gold material if you’re a fan of Star Wars and a must-listen if, like me, you adore both the galaxy far, far away and the world of Arendelle. You can listen to the entire episode of Star Wars Oxygen here.
Who else is voting for Lopez to write a piece of music for an upcoming Star Wars film? Raise your hand in the comments.