Lin-Manuel Miranda on Bringing ‘In the Heights’ to the Big Screen: ‘We’re Allowed to Take Up Space’

Lin-Manuel Miranda is having a busy Sundance. The prolific playwright is in Park City, Utah this week as the interview subject of three documentaries — “Siempre, Luis,” “We Are Freestyle Love Supreme” and “Mucho Mucho Amour” — all premiering at this year’s film festival.

Miranda’s indie movie tour is only the beginning of his foray into films. His musical sensation “Hamilton” will hopefully be getting the movie treatment “sooner rather than later,” Miranda said at Variety’s Studio at the Sundance Film Festival. “Hamilton” director Thomas Kail filmed the stage show before the original Broadway cast members began to depart.

“What I’m most excited about [is] you all have that friend that is like, ‘I saw it with the original cast.’ We’re stealing that brag from everyone because you’re all going to see it with the original cast,” Miranda said. “We’re just trying to find the right time to do it.”

But before “Hamilton” makes its way to movie theaters, Miranda is bringing his first Tony-winning production, “In the Heights,” to multiplexes. The show, a slice-of-life musical about a largely Hispanic community in Manhattan’s neighborhood of Washington Heights, will debut this summer. Jon M. Chu, who most recently brought box-office smash “Crazy Rich Asians” to life, directed “In the Heights.”

“The lesson I got from Jon is we’re allowed to take up space with our stories,” Miranda said. “He used his post-“Crazy Rich Asians” capital to say, ‘No, we get to take a big swing.’ This story, which could very easily have been this indie tiny musical about this neighborhood, [he] was like, ‘This deserves a big swing. And this deserves to be as big as any of the other movies out there.'”

“Hamilton” alum Anthony Ramos portrays Usnavi, a bodega owner who dreams of a better life. The cast also includes Corey Hawkins, Jimmy Smits, Melissa Barrera, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Dascha Polanco and Stephanie Beatriz. Though Miranda originated the role of Usnavi on the Great White Way, he instead plays Piraguero, the owner of a small piragua stand whose syrupy treats rival Mister Softee.

“It is about superheroes,” his dad, Luis Miranda said. “But the heroes of every community of every neighborhood, the normal people who get up every morning and work and make every community great.”

The same could be said about the Sundance documentary “Siempre, Luis,” a portrait of Lin-Manuel’s father, a political adviser and Puerto Rican advocate. It chronicles Luis Miranda as he plans relief efforts after the devastation of Hurricane Maria, including bringing “Hamilton” to the island to raise money and awareness. Luis Miranda said he found it emotional to watch the film for the first time.

“I realized what Puerto Rico has gone through since Hurricane Maria after fiscal crisis and failed governments to see the pain the island has gone through was very moving and sad,” Luis Miranda said.

After Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, Donald Trump did little to assist in rebuilding after the destruction. Lin-Manuel Miranda had a few choice words for the president’s response (or lack thereof).

“My first instinct when I hear your question is: What response? He has treated Puerto Rico with indifference, if not outright hostility,” Lin-Manuel Miranda said. “Then when his ego was bruised by being called on that, he doubled down on the insults and the rhetoric. We’ve never had an administration as hostile to a U.S. territory.”

Luis Miranda didn’t find Trump’s attacks surprising, instead, noting the importance of standing in solidarity with minorities that the president has been privy to take aim at.

“It’s also reminding people all of our brothers and sisters in the Latinx community that if one of our communities is treated badly, everyone is in the same boat,” he said. “He started with Mexicans — [saying] Mexicans were criminals and rapists as he’s coming down his palace at Trump Tower. Nothing has changed, we’re just the latest racist chapter in the history of Trump.”

Watch the full video interview above.

More Film

  • Ventana Sur

    Ventana Sur Sets 2020 Dates, a New Venue

    BERLIN —   Ventana Sur, the biggest film-TV industry event in Latin America – and bulwarked by a hugely popular Cannes Film Week hosted by Thierry Fremaux – has set dates for its 12th edition, and announced a new venue in Buenos Aires. Running Monday Nov. 30 to Friday Dec. 4, this year’s 12th Ventana [...]

  • Cannes VR

    Cannes Film Festival Plots Major Expansion to VR Program

    Cannes XR, the Marché du Film’s program dedicated to immersive and augmented reality content, is set to expand. For its second edition, Cannes XR has partnered with tech creator Positron and Brogent Technologies to introduce a new VR theater, dedicated space and competition. While keeping its 700-square meter exhibition space in the basement of Cannes’ [...]

  • The Italian Recipe

    Europe-China Co-Prod 'The Italian Recipe' Immune to Coronavirus (EXCLUSIVE)

    With production in China suffering a coronavirus-imposed slowdown, “The Italian Recipe” is one co-production between Europe and China that is poised to potentially capitalize on the resulting dearth of Chinese content. It is positioned to advance European cinema’s efforts to make inroads in China. “The Italian Recipe,” in which a famous Chinese pop singer travels [...]

  • Csaba Kael

    Hungarian Film Commissioner Csaba Kael on His Ambitious Plans for 'Hollywood on the Danube'

    Just months after assuming the role of Hungarian film commissioner, Csaba Káel has designs on revamping the film and television industries to boost content development and production, expand already formidable studio facilities and become a lynchpin for film and TV production and servicing that extends far beyond Budapest. Káel took up his post in September, [...]

  • Claire Denis attends the 32nd European

    Claire Denis and Phedon Papamichael Join Doha Film Institute's Qumra Lineup

    The Doha Film Institute has added French auteur Claire Denis and Oscar-nominated cinematographer Phedon Papamichael (“Nebraska”) to the lineup of star talent who will act as mentors for the Qumra Masters program during its upcoming Qumra event dedicated to fostering fresh Arab film fare that is opening up to TV projects. They join previously announced [...]

  • Persian Lessons Russian Cinema

    'Persian Lessons': Film Review

    In “Schindler’s List,” most of the actors spoke English, using accents to indicate their characters’ origins. In “Son of Saul,” the cast struggles to communicate in a mish-mosh of languages, as Jews of different nationalities were thrown together in Auschwitz-Birkenau. Stories about the Holocaust — so vital in trying to reconcile the horrors of the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content