My Favorite Album: Topher Grace on John Williams’ "The Spielberg/Williams Collaboration" | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Saturday, August 15th, 2020  

My Favorite Album: Topher Grace on John Williams’ “The Spielberg/Williams Collaboration”

“I just don’t think [John Williams] gets enough credit for his pop sensibility.”

Jul 06, 2020 Issue #66 - My Favorite Album - Angel Olsen and Sleater-Kinney
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Leave it to an actor to mention a favorite album so on the nose, but Topher Grace insists his love for John Williams’ music isn’t just about his craft.

Grace’s love for film scores goes back to an adolescence steeped in the magic of motion pictures. “I was prime Amblin pre-teen audience,” the now 41-year-old says, referencing the production company behind popular films like E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and Gremlins, Back to the Future and Goonies. His love of films centered on the directorial work of Steven Spielberg and, consequently, the music of composer John Williams.

The pairing of Spielberg and Williams is undoubtedly among the most successful collaborations in cinematic history. From their earliest work on Jaws and the Indiana Jones series to Jurassic Park and Schindler’s List to recent entries like Lincoln and The Post, the duo will release their 29th film together with the slated release of a fifth Indiana Jones film in 2021. To celebrate the catalog, a series of albums have featured Williams’ most memorable work with Spielberg over time, with this first entry (1990’s The Spielberg/Williams Collaboration) inspiring young actors like Grace when he began to really listen to music.

“I think it’s important to understand that when it came out, there was no Internet,” says Grace, who turned heads with his performance as David Duke in BlacKkKlansman last year. “There was no way to understand what was going on outside of a movie. Maybe you could go to Planet Hollywood or subscribe to Premiere magazine or something, but I loved movies so much. Then my parents got this for me in the eighth grade.

“When I first heard it, I probably thought it was classical music, but the more I listened to it, the more I realized that he’s The Beatles at what he does. It was like listening to Rubber Soul or something. It was very easy to get into, since you already know half the songs. I just don’t think he gets enough credit for his pop sensibility. I mean, everybody knows how to hum the songs on that album.”

As a lover of film and an up-and-coming actor, the Spielberg/Williams Collaboration allowed Grace an entry point back into the worlds he loved to inhabit at the movie theater. In days before streaming technology, when media wasn’t so all-encompassing, an album like this provided a gateway back into alien worlds and adventure scenes.

“I don’t know an actor who hasn’t found the music of something they love that they want to try to replicate or re-enter their own way somehow,” he says. “I wore out that CD.”

(Topher Grace got his start playing Eric Forman for seven seasons on the hit late ’90s sitcom That ’70s Show. Since then he’s had a slew of notable roles in such movies as Traffic, In Good Company, Spider-Man 3, Interstellar, and BlacKkKlansman. In 2019 he appeared in an episode of Black Mirror and co-starred in the National Geographic drama miniseries The Hot Zone. He also hosts his own podcast, Minor Adventures with Topher Grace.)

[Note: This article originally appeared in Issue 66 of Under the Radar’s print magazine, which is out now. This is its debut online. For the issue we interviewed musicians and actors about their all-time favorite album.]

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