Skip to Content

Interview with STRANGE MAGIC Director Gary Rydstrom #strangemagic

Sharing is caring!

Movie poster for 'Strange Magic', showcasing animated fantasy creatures with a full moon in the background, inspired by a George Lucas interview.Have you had the opportunity to see Strange Magic yet? It came into theaters on January 23rd and is a really fun family friendly movie. You can read my Strange Magic no-spoiler review that I gave earlier this week. I have already shared with you a few of our Strange Magic Interviews. I loved having Elijah Kelley, George Lucas and Gary Rydstrom all in the room together because they would react and respond to each others comments.

A man with glasses, wearing a white shirt, and jeans, sits in a brown leather chair while speaking into a microphone during an interview with STRANGE MAGIC Director Gary Rydstrom.

Photo Credit: Sassy Mama in LA

We Interviewed George Lucas before Gary Rydstrom and George Lucas had just finished telling us that he was sad to have so many songs from the movie cut. They two and a funny moment together when we had to shift gears to interview Gary Rydstrom. Gary gets on stage and says," They get to talk to the guy who cut out all of George's favorite songs." 🙂 In which George Lucas replies, " And he's also the one that made it work. He was the one that got it finished." I thought it was a very real and kind moment to witness where you learn how much they depend on each other in making a movie.

Here are some of the questions from the Interview with STRANGE MAGIC Director Gary Rydstrom

Question: You directed Pixar shorts Lifted, and Toy Story Two, Hawaiian Vacation, uh, and you're also the director of the English language versions of the Secret World of Arrietty from Up on Poppy Hill and the Wind Waker, wow. I’d love for you to tell us a little bit more about what it was about this story that attracted you as a storyteller and filmmaker.

Gary Rydstrom: Well,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. 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, you know, 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.

I was really attracted to it as, 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, you know, because love is hard, it's not, it doesn't always, it's not always happy. But I love that part of it and making a musical was really fun.

Two animated fairy characters, inspired by a George Lucas interview, are flying, with the foreground fairy smiling broadly and the one in the background looking determined.

Question:  Well it's, it's awesome, because as you watch the film, it has everything you're talking about, but then your mastery of sound design actually it comes into the movie too. When you see the lizard yelling at, Sunny and Pear, I'm also recalling Jurassic Park, you know, which you did the sound design on. And so you get to have all of that plus the storytelling.

Gary Rydstrom : The sound designer on this movie is somebody that I mentored at Pixar and so this is a great chance for him to do his version and it is a beautiful chance for sound effects to tell the story too. What I like in, in our story is we have a lizard that sounds like a dinosaur but by the end, it's fallen in love.

Question: Did you have a character that was a muse to you?

Gary Rydstrom: I actually like the Bog King, because that thing we talked about earlier about having your heart broken. And I think we all go through a thing that's a completely natural thing, it's when you get your heart broken, you say that's it, I'm not going to, I'm not going to let myself be vulnerable ever again. He goes to an extreme but it's something that I can relate to, you know, it's so painful to go through something that makes you feel hurt and less than you should be, and- and you just don't want to do it again. So your, your solution for it is to put up this shield and never let anyone in again. And I, I know we all do that, and I thought he was someone I could relate to. Once you get past that veneer and let your real self come out, it's, it's so much more satisfying both for him and for the one he falls in love with.

A fantastical creature resembling a humanoid tree with a glowing entity behind it in a forest setting, reminiscent of a scene from a George Lucas interview.

Question: You assembled an incredible cast for the film, we have Elijah here, but can you tell us a little bit about what it was like to work with them and what they brought to their characters.

GaryRydstrom: Well casting is pretty key for a movie like this and as George said, you have to find people who both act and sing and that the whole 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 who is funny and as I have said before, 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 and, it was amazing. For years again, I was doing sound effects as a career and I hadn’t really worked with actors much.

And then as I started to for animation, I really love it, animation is the same thing, animators are actors too, but I love being in the room with actors and it's really hard for them, because they're acting alone, they're not acting with other actors, it's be great if they did but it just doesn't work out so it's them. You describe the scene as best you can, you do line readings with them to set up the scene. Elijah made me work the hardest, because I would line read with him, but he's very active and it requires a lot of energy, so I was often playing either the Sugar Plum Fairy or Dawn.

And I was, I was actually pretty good at it.

Two animated characters engaging in a friendly exchange in a forest setting during a George Lucas interview.

Question: Okay, so I've asked everybody else for their favorite song in the movie, and it doesn't have to be your absolute favorite, but maybe one that you enjoy more than others.

Gary Rydstrom:  Well, I'll give two answers, one that Strange Magic is, is my favorite musical moment in the movie because it kind of sums up the movie, it's a beautiful song, and Evan Rachel Wood and Al Cumming sing it beautifully and the arrangement of it is beautiful. It's a duet, and originally it's not a duet, and it's a beautiful duet. But the moment that makes me cry every time is when Elijah sings Three Little Birds to Dawn at the end.


I love having the opportunity to interview directors because they have spent SO much time working on making their movie. They are involved from the beginning to very end. They are so passionate about their craft and it is so important to them that they make a movie that is well received and loved. I loved hearing the passion behind making the movie as well as hearing the difficulties that come through the process. Strange Magic is definitely a movie filled with a lot of heart, passion and took a lot of talented people to make. Strange Magic is in theaters now! Go see it with your family! 🙂

YouTube video

Sharing is caring!