We collected the inteviews, video and written, that Lin-Manuel Miranda gave so far to promote In The Heights movie.
Let’s start with Fandango All Access.
Under the cut you can find more interviews, videos and articles: Reuters, New York Live, WGN News, The Sitdown with Sandy Kenyon, CBS News, AAFCA Roundtable, Fox5, TheaterMania and Variety.
(Miranda comes on the roundtable around 18.00.)
THEATERMANIA: How does the medium of film open up the world of In the Heights, which on stage is sort of confined to one main location?
LMM: Full credit to Jon M. Chu, who was always reaching for the version of the song you couldn’t do onstage. When we stumbled on the Highbridge Pool and I was like, ‘Oh yeah, that’s where we swim in the summers,’ he was like 96,000. In the script, it’s on a city block, but he dreams bigger for us. For When the Sun Goes Down, he had the idea of this anti-gravity dance up the side of the building, complete with fire escapes and leaking air conditioners, and in an aside to me, he goes, ‘I just wish the song were longer, because this is really expensive.’ So I said, ‘Well, it can be longer.’ I already knew that Sunrise wasn’t going to make sense in the new chronology, so what if the dance climax of When the Sun Goes Down is Sunrise? I ran to the piano and figured out how to make them sing the lyric ‘at the same time’ and then go into the Sunrise motif. He was always pushing towards the more cinematic answer every time.
What is it like to see In the Heights on the big screen, both in light of the pandemic-related delay, and the fact that this show has been in your lives for such a long time?
LMM: I feel lighter. When the shutdown happened, and when we realized that we were not going to be able to release it in the summer of 2020, I felt like we were back at the O’Neill, and Kevin McCollum was telling us that it’s not ready yet. It was that feeling of ‘We’re sitting on this thing and we know how proud of it we are, and we just can’t wait to get it out of our heads and onto a stage.’ It was a flashback of that. But I’m really glad we waited. Now, the movie has a double-poignancy, of ‘remember when we used to sing and dance and hug and kiss in the streets?’ It’s this love letter from the time before the year-and-a-half we’ve had.
How did looking at this material through the eyes of the older and wiser versions of yourselves impact the changes that you made in the process?
LMM: I just think that Quiara and I are better at this than we were when we were in our 20s. Quiara’s screenplay is so smart. It updates the script without losing the essence of the 2008 version and it brings other issues to the floor that are really on the front pages of the Latinx community in the United States right now. To revisit these characters again was really, really fun, and it’s still from this perspective of joy. We wanted to write about our own community with a sense of joy, and that shines through. I’m really proud of these 20s us-es, but also really proud that we had another crack at it.
The interview includes answers from Quiara Allegrí Hudes. Check the source to read them.
VARIETY: Did you ever consider reprising the role of Usnavi?
LMM: I was going to be Usnavi in the first go-round because I had been playing it on Broadway. And then when that whole situation ended, I closed the book on it. I was like ‘OK, I’m working on this other thing [Hamilton], I’ll just keep writing.’ I saw Anthony in a production of In the Heights, and I can’t tell you how surreal it was. I had shared many performances with him as my best friend and my son in Hamilton. His connection to Usnavi was so molecular. It was just like, I was playing Usnavi and Anthony is Usnavi. That’s genuinely how I felt when I watched him do it. That was a good six months before we were even talking casting, but I knew he had the chops to do it.
Which character do you relate to the most?
LMM: Even though I played Usnavi [on Broadway], I identified most with Nina — the person who is from the neighborhood but went to school somewhere else and feels out of place everywhere. I think it’s a good definition of a writer: someone that feels out of place anywhere, and someone who was already observing the situation.
What was the first day on set like?
LMM: We were at Astor Place. Since I was just sort of sitting there, I had a chance to revel in the full circle-ness of it. When you’re a New York kid, you have layers of memories for every block in Manhattan. I was thinking about when I used to sit on the floor of Shakespeare and Company, the bookstore around the corner. When I used to sit in the humor section of the now defunct Barnes & Noble that was on Astor Place that is now, like, a gym or something. And it’s a block from where Hamilton premiered at the Public. You have layers of experience on every block, which was intense on 8th street so imagine how we felt a few days later when we went up to my actual neighborhood to begin shooting.
What’s the key to adapting a musical for the big screen?
LMM: In the most successful movie musicals, you have to bring something that is not in the stage adaptation. We experience movies differently. In the Heights is very different from the stage show, but it has the spirit of a stage show, which I think is true of [movie musicals like] Cabaret and Chicago. The most successful ones aren’t afraid to break the thing a little to make its own thing.
In the Heights and Hamilton grapple with themes of legacy and what we leave behind. Has your relationship to that notion changed at all?
LMM: No, I am just as morbid as I was when I was 16 years old and thinking I could die tomorrow.