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How Lin-Manuel Miranda Pulled Off the Most Thrilling Cameo in ‘Tick, Tick…Boom!’

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But yeah, I mean, honestly, what we wanted to do was paint as complete a picture as possible, because Jonathan in writing this was attempting to create a self-portrait of the artist as a young man. And our job was to round out that picture, because when you’re putting this on a film, it’s not just Jonathan embodying those characters for us, or the three-person cast of the off-Broadway version. We have a chance to meet Rosa Stevens. We have a chance to meet Stephen Sondheim. We have a chance to meet Jon’s parents. And our job is to paint a fuller picture than perhaps even Jonathan painted. And so to that end, we really talked to the, those figures in his life.

And you know, it was important for me to find balance in those because Jonathan is a very unreliable narrator [laughs] when he is performing this show. But I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with choosing to be a dancer that doesn’t necessarily dance in New York.

Yeah, I feel like the show from Susan’s perspective is maybe like, “I have this boyfriend who just cannot get his, like his shit together.” 

Yeah. A hundred percent. And you know, there was a lot of opportunity to flesh that out—because if his girlfriend’s a dancer, which she was, dancers hear the ticking of a clock way louder than anybody else. They are entrusted with their own bodies as an instrument. And when that starts to go and when injuries start to pile up, they die twice. And so really kind of leaning into that, and leaning into, you know, an artist can be an artist wherever they are in the world.

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That’s Jonathan’s shit, that he needs to be in New York. And then the same is true of Michael. I think that sometimes in the casting of productions of Tick, Tick…Boom! I’ve seen, they always sort of cast someone who looks totally at home in the business world. It’s always sort of like a Benny from Rent type.

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Wearing a suit, yeah.

Whereas I think, when you get Robin as Michael, you get, oh, that guy was definitely an artist. The guy is definitely an actor. It comes off him in waves. But he is someone who can bring his creative life to his work, and has health insurance  [laughs]. And isn’t living hand to mouth, and there’s nothing wrong with making those choices for your own safety and your own sanity. And so again, making these as a more plausible roads that Jonathan could go down and find happiness, if you so chose, were it not for the calling that is, that is somewhere inside him, and the ticking that is somewhere inside him.

So Jonathan has this very kind of black and white worldview, where you’re an artist or a sellout. But the movie, you don’t think, is really taking that point of view.

No, I think we wanted to provide opposing viewpoints, because a movie has more room for that. You know, when Michael says like, “Why can’t I have those things? Like, look at the world we’re living in.” He’s not wrong. And we want it to get out of the, the binary of, there’s artists and there’s everyone else. Because you know, there’s lots of different roads to happiness in this life. And most of us don’t get to do what we love for living. But I think a greater lesson of this is if you can find space for the thing you love, you will live a good life.

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