By his own admission, Lin-Manuel Miranda went back to school this year. The Latino actor, director, writer, songwriter and composer had so many projects and commitments to juggle at once this year that the only way he made it through was to pretend he was back in college.
The multi-hyphenate behind “Hamilton” saw the release of “In the Heights” (Warner Bros) the film adaptation of his first Broadway musical, which he co-wrote and produced with director Jon M. Chu; and the debut of his feature directorial debut with musical drama “Tick Tick … Boom!” (Netflix). He also contributed original songs to Disney’s animated fantasy “Encanto” and starred in the voice cast of the Netflix animated movie “Vivo.” All of his projects have received critical acclaim, with awards buzz coming for Miranda vying for a bid for best director, with two possibilities for original song.
“Because I’m not a very good multitasker, I need to daydream. I need to, like, space out. That’s where the good ideas come from, they come when you’re walking your dog, or you’re in the shower,” Miranda says. “I literally just started to think of them as different courses because that’s why I signed on.”
Miranda delivers a keynote presented by ASCAP at Variety’s Music for Screens Summit (Dec. 1-3).
Although Miranda changed the face of musical theater with 2015’s “Hamilton,” in his heart, he’s always wanted to be a movie director.
“I always loved movies,” he says. “My grandfather would let me borrow the VHS camcorder that they used as for surveillance at the bank where he worked. So I have these home movies and in between, you can see fuzzy images of people on line at the bank.”
The range of material he’s able to work on is gratifying. “Tick Tick … Boom!” was a passion project for Miranda as it is the film adaptation of the autobiographical musical by the late Jonathan Larson of “Rent” legend.
Although “Rent” became an overnight sensation when it opened Off Broadway in 1996, few remember that Larson, who died of a brain aneurysm on the day “Rent” was to begin previews, spent a decade in obscurity working on the musical.
“It’s about failure,” Miranda says. “It’s not the story of the genius who made rent writing ‘Rent.’ It’s the genius who made ‘Rent’ spending 10 years writing the show that no one wanted to see.”
He shares that the upcoming year is clear for him in terms of feature projects. He’ll be taking some needed time off to spend with his family, and allow the creative juices to flow again.