When the pandemic hit in 2020, “Tick, Tick … Boom!” had only spent eight days of shooting. Director and producer Lin-Manuel Miranda worried that the actors and crew would never return to complete it.
“I can’t believe we finished it,” Miranda says. “There were so many times when it didn’t look like we were going to finish it, it looked like the world was ending and maybe production would start again, but maybe our project wasn’t important enough to get back up.”
In a conversation with film awards editor Clayton Davis for the Variety Streaming Room presented by Netflix, Miranda, and his star Andrew Garfield, who plays the talented musician and playwright Jonathan Larson, the two discuss Garfield’s experience learning how to sing and play piano for the role. The film is based on the autobiographical musical by “Rent” composer Jonathan Larson, penned for the screen by Steven Levenson.
Garfield wanted to ensure his piano-playing skills looked authentic and realistic, even when he wasn’t playing live.
“Thank god I had a year,” Garfield shares. “And thank god I had resources that Lin helped and that Netflix provided. I had a piano tutor for a year. I had Liz Caplan whenever I needed her to open up this vocal instrument for a year. And then with the piano, it was like I’ve always wanted to learn piano, but I know that that’s an indulgence that I can’t afford right now. So I have just to get as much of ‘Why,’ and ‘30/90,’ and ‘Happy Birthday,’ which I struggled with, down.”
In terms of creating the movie itself, Miranda praises his creative team and how they could bring this new version of the musical to life, which has had many different iterations. Miranda himself even played Larson in an early production of the show.
“We took advantage of the fact that there’s no definitive version,” Miranda says. “We cut three songs. We added two songs that [Larson] used to do in the monologue but didn’t end up off-Broadway, ‘Swimming’ and ‘Play Game.’ And then I said, ‘If we do our jobs right, this should say “Score by Jonathan Larson” at the end of the movie,’ because there was such a wealth of material in the Jonathan Larson archives at the Library of Congress that it just seemed a shame not to put more of his music into the world.”
Watch the full conversation above.