Interview by Paul Salfen
Grammy-winning composer Mateo Messina has graced Oscar-winning films, indie hits, and popular television shows with his distinct, moving and wildly innovative musical voice. His folksy, guitar-led score for Jason Reitman’s “Juno,” starring Ellen Page and Michael Cera, contributed to the film’s runaway success, and led to Messina’s Grammy win for the film’s soundtrack. Messina recently composed the music for Universal Pictures’ comedy “Blockers,” starring Leslie Mann, Ike Barinholtz and John Cena, which opens April 6, as well as Donald Petrie’s romantic comedy “Little Italy,” starring Emma Roberts and Hayden Christensen, which comes out later this year. Messina is currently working on season four of Reitman’s Hulu comedy series “Casual,” season three of the NBC comedy “Superstore,” starring America Ferrera, and the new YouTube Red original comedy series “Swipe Right.”
Messina has written music for numerous films including Phil Alden Robinson’s dramedy “The Angriest Man in Brooklyn,” starring Robin Williams, and Jim Field Smith’s satirical comedy “Butter,” starring Jennifer Garner, Hugh Jackman, Ty Burrell and Olivia Wilde. His music can also be heard in the independent comedies “Tim Timmerman: Hope of America,” “Fixed” and “Second Nature.” Additionally, Messina scored the teenage comedy “Barely Lethal,” starring Samuel L. Jackson and Hailee Steinfeld, the R-rated comedy “Life Happens” and the sports drama “From the Rough.” He also wrote additional music for the Golden Globe-winning and six-time Oscar-nominated film “Up in the Air,” starring George Clooney, Reitman’s Golden Globe-nominated “Thank You For Smoking,” starring Aaron Eckhart, and “Young Adult,” starring Charlize Theron.
Beyond his success in film, Messina composed for a variety of television shows including NBC’s comedy series “Growing Up Fisher,” starring J.K. Simmons, the high-seas adventure “Crossbones,” starring John Malkovich, USA’s “Fairly Legal” and “Dig,” EPIX’s “Graves,” the Discovery Channel mini-series “Harley and the Davidsons,” and NBC’s “Perfect Couples” and “Truth Be Told.” He also wrote additional music for NBC’s hit series “The Office.”
Messina loves writing music for film and television because he says, “it’s like going to a different summer camp six to eight times every year. Each has its own style, its own discipline, shape, tone and characters. You collaborate and move a mountain with a group of inspired people. It’s a challenge and a blast.”
Growing up in Seattle, Messina was drawn to music and started playing piano at the age of three. He premiered his first symphony at the young age of 23 and has since orchestrated a total of 20 original symphonies with the proceeds benefitting the Seattle Children’s Hospital. To date, Messina has raised over $2 million for the children’s hospital and their families.