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Interview: Lin-Manuel Miranda on The Telegraph for His Dark Materials

[ Written on October 28 2020 by Francesca ]

On October, 28 The Telegraph released an interview with Lin-Manuel Miranda, in which the artist talks about the TV show His Dark Materials, the criticism Hamilton received and much more.

 

Some highlights from the article.

Last year, he talked about their [his and Vanessa Nadal’s] shared love of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials novels – “We read them together when we were first dating, they were the books we fell in love to.” They were the reason why he couldn’t turn down the opportunity to play the buccaneering, balloon “aëronaut” Lee Scoresby in the BBC’s big-budget adaptation of the trilogy, which returns for a second series on November 8. It fell into “the category of: would I kick myself for ever if I said no? … because my wife and I love those books so much”. So is his Lee Scoresby the way his reading partner imagined him? “No idea,” he laughs. He pitched the idea that Scoresby should sport a “Clark Gable moustache”, he volunteers, although he suggests that he ends up looking more like the celebrated Mexican comedian Cantinflas.
He describes himself as “the token American” in the cast of His Dark Materials. Does he think that the show’s diverse casting has added to the richness of the story? “I think that it is to the benefit of any fantasy world to diversify the cast – you’re telling me we can have orcs and dwarves and daemons, but we can’t have more than one skin hue?” It’s an interesting moment to discuss it because, although the release of the film of his first musical, In the Heights, has been pushed back to next June, the trailer had already been released, and was, as is now customary, greeted by criticism on the outlet for collective hysteria that is social media. The story focuses on Washington Heights, a mostly Latino neighbourhood in New York, close to where Miranda grew up. The criticism focused on a perceived lack of representation of people from an Afro-Dominican background in that area of the city. “I think when people see the movie, they’ll see that we really have done our best to represent everybody, Afro-Latinos included,” he responds.
“I think if I were in love with statues, we wouldn’t have made Hamilton the way we made it,” he says, sounding ever so slightly exasperated by the question. “We were obviously never trying to make idols of these people. The goal was to make them as human and as flawed as possible… If there’s any thesis in the show, it’s that these guys were making it up as they went along… and their foibles and their contradictions make it into the contradictions of our founding. “In terms of criticism, it’s all valid. I don’t believe criticism equals cancellation. I know what didn’t make it into the show, I’m the one who spent six years writing it. That’s part of what comes with taking real life and trying to smoosh it into two and a half hours of musical theatre, there’s always going to be stuff that doesn’t make it in… Everything that’s not in the show is fair game to point out.”
He is a big fan of J K Rowling’s Harry Potter books (which to many are a less cerebral alternative to Pullman’s trilogy). I want to know whether he is conflicted about Rowling’s comments this year about sex and gender. “I am disheartened and saddened by them as a fan,” he says. “And by her continued insistence on pushing this point, when there are so many other things, so many issues. I was very moved by Daniel Radcliffe’s statement in which he says, this does not take away the world you lived in and the experience you’ve had with these books, and I’m trying to hold on to that.”

Read the whole feature under the cut.

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