Lin-Manuel Miranda had a vision for In the heights And he wasn’t going to let anyone change it.
Two decades ago, the 41-year-old multi-talented star was presenting what would become the four-Tony Award-winning Broadway play. The film adaptation, directed by Crazy Rich Asians Director Jon M. Chu would arrive 16 years after his debut. But it wasn’t an easy road for Miranda, who revealed that one studio didn’t want to make the big screen adaptation without a profitable Latino star.
But before it became this summer’s must-see movie, Miranda encountered other problems when it came to pitching the script.
“I received proposals from producers who only had West Side Story in their cultural memory ”, says Miranda. Variety in a new feature released Thursday. “Like, ‘Why isn’t she pregnant? Why isn’t she in a gang? Why isn’t she getting out of an abusive relationship at Stanford?’ Those are all the real things they proposed to me. “
“Because the pressure of leaving your neighborhood to go to school is enough,” he said. “I promise. And if it’s not dramatic enough, it’s our responsibility to show you what’s at stake.”
Universal Pictures first bought the rights in 2008, with Kenny Ortega as director. The project was canceled in 2011. The outlet noted that the studio supposedly wanted a profitable Latinx star, supposedly Jennifer Lopez or Shakira, and thought it would be too risky to contribute $ 37 million to a musical with unknown stars.
“It was converted very quickly if you don’t have it,” Miranda recalled, covering her mouth with her hand, “… beep, you’re not getting the money to make the movie.”
“The phrase that resonates in my ears from that time is ‘There are not many Latin stars that are tested internationally.’ ‘International test’ means ‘We’re not going to risk an expensive movie with Latino stars,’ ”explains Miranda.“ What Jon did so brilliantly with Crazy Rich Asians It was said, ‘These people are stars; you just don’t know who they are yet. ‘ I think you have done something similar with In the heights. “
After Universal’s death, Miranda partnered with The Weinstein Company. But after the multiple accusations against Harvey Weinstein, the rights went to Warner Bros. Miranda and Chu made sure to gain creative control and find the right cast to bring. In the heights to the life.
“[Crazy Rich Asians] It gave me the strength in the room to say: We are going to have to spend more time and money to find the right actors, ”says Chu. Variety. “You won’t find them in an agency. The agencies won’t represent them because there are no roles for them.”
They then found their leader Anthony Ramos, who worked with Miranda on Hamilton – after he replaced the role of Usnavi after the original stage actor injured his foot. Ramos was a relatively unknown name, with his most notable role as Lady Gaga’s friend in A star has been born. The other three leading roles went to Lifetime star Melissa Barrera as Vanessa, Leslie Grace as Nina and Corey Hawkins as Benny.
The film was originally scheduled to be released last year, but was delayed due to the pandemic. While Miranda had reservations about postponing the release, he and Chu now know that it couldn’t come at a better time.
“This is a vaccine for your soul,” Chu says, and Miranda adds, “Jon’s argument for me, which is the correct one, is that we can launch it now and people would feel good if they had it in their homes. Or we can. release it with the right push next year, and then we created a Latinx star lane so I never have to sit in a meeting and hear someone say, ‘Do you test internationally?’ ”.
Ramos previously told ET that In the heights it’s going to be a “moment” for Latinos.
“It’s going to be a moment for us. You never know what will happen to everything you do, but when you do something you believe in [it’s amazing]”He marveled.” The movie hasn’t come out, but I’m already proud because I know how it felt. I know those days on set where 75 Latinos are on the streets just cheering each other on before the 15th take of a huge dance number, still pumped up and overdone, and you feel that thing inside of us that has been waiting to come out of our community for years … What I’m saying is that now we have the opportunity to give to the world and it was just beautiful and it was a moment. ”
In the heights hits theaters and at HBO Max on June 11. See more in the video below.