Lin-Manuel Miranda on Casting ‘Tick, Tick… Boom!’ and How Writing the ‘Encanto’ Music Got Personal

·3-min read

Lin-Manuel Miranda has delivered a wealth of gifts to audiences over the past year, including Broadway’s improvisational hip-hop comedy show “Freestyle Love Supreme,” his feature directorial debut, “Tick, Tick… Boom!” and the double animated dose of “Vivo” and “Encanto.”

Miranda wrote eight new songs for “Encanto,” which have gone viral — including “We Don’t Talk About Bruno.” The film was number one at the box office over the Thanksgiving holiday, and is now being discovered by more viewers via Disney Plus. “To share that score, that I’m so proud of, it’s more sophisticated than anything I’ve been able to do before in the animated space,” he tells Variety’s Awards Circuit Podcast. The thesis was to get an entire family on screen. “That’s the story – 12 major characters and we’re not saving the world, and the relationships between those characters is the story.”

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The Awards Circuit Podcast recently spoke with Miranda about “Encanto,” “Tick, Tick… Boom!,” casting Andrew Garfield and more. Listen to the episode below.

Miranda talked about “Encanto’s” impact on audiences and hearing what songs they found appealing. “It’s been wonderful to see folks claiming ‘Surface Pressure’ as a song that defines how they feel as an older sibling,” he said. The song had personal resonance with him: “We all threw our family stories in the middle of the pile to create ‘Encanto.'”

During the conversation, Miranda shared his first musical memories. “My parents were big cast album collectors,” he said. “My mom would blast the ‘Camelot’ soundtrack, she blasted ‘Man of LaMancha,’ and just seeing what a powerful effect that music had on my parents and their emotions, I think was probably very formational for me.”

The multi-hyphenate also talked about casting “Tick, Tick… Boom!” and what made Andrew Garfield the right actor to play Jonathan Larson. The film captures the creative anxiety that tortured ‘Rent’ composer Larson, who died at age 35, before opening night. “Rent” would change theater and a generation.

“I know we needed to have a spectacular actor,” Miranda said “And I also know I need a theater beast. I needed someone who lives and breathes theater.”

While he went through a Rolodex of actors, Miranda also happened to be in London while Garfield was on stage performing in “Angels in America.” He saw how Garfield commanded the stage, and while he didn’t know if he could sing, “I left that production feeling like this guy could do anything,” he said. “So singing was like the least of it. I knew that just as a fan of his movies that he could do the smaller moments, and he could play to the rafters. He could do it all.”

Variety’s Awards Circuit podcast is hosted by Clayton Davis, Michael Schneider, Jazz Tangcay and Jenelle Riley and is your one-stop listen for lively conversations about the best in movies. Michael Schneider is the producer and Drew Griffith edits. Each week, “Awards Circuit” features interviews with top talent and creatives; discussions and debates about awards races and industry headlines; and much, much more. Subscribe via Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify or anywhere you download podcasts. New episodes post every week.

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