Lin-Manuel Miranda Talks Childhood, Musical Influences, HAMILTON & More On DESERT ISLAND DISCS
Lin-Manuel Miranda appeared today on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs - the UK's long-running interview programme on which celebrity guests choose their favourite music to take to an imaginary desert island, while also sharing stories from their life and career.
Miranda's musical picks were: Liza Minnelli's version of "Cabaret", The Decemberists' "The Crane Wife", Rubén Blades and Seis del Solar's "El Padre Antonio y el Monaguillo Andrés", The Pharcyde's "Passin' Me By", Ali Dineen's "What You Know", Regina Spektor's "On The Radio", Gilberto Santa Rosa's "Dejate Querer" (his first dance with wife Vanessa at their wedding), and OutKast's "Rosa Parks".
His choice of a book to take with him was Moby-Dick, his wife's favourite book, and his luxury item was coffee.
Speaking about the casting of Hamilton, Miranda said: "I was never picturing literal founders. We looked for the most diverse group of people who could bring these words to life." He added that director Thomas Kail "ran with that initial impulse" and "made it a principle: the story of America then told by America now."
Miranda discussed his upbringing in the Spanish-speaking neighbourhood of Washington Heights in New York, where he "won the Lotto" in going to Hunter College school, plus summer visits to see his family in Puerto Rico. He said being "a little out of place" in both areas contributed to "a great recipe for being a writer".
Miranda's father brought home a camcorder from work, which the young Miranda used to make movies, including stop-motion films. "It was a lot of playing around in my imagination," he said. He also recalled struggling to "hold it together" listening to music when he was a kid - a sensitivity he now appreciates.
His first job out of university was teaching at Hunter, but he noted that, as a pupil, it was an "intimidating" place academically - so he learned early on that "funny was a currency", and that he could "be smart" at theatre.
Miranda described seeing Rent on his 17th birthday, and identifying with Mark who hides in his work, using "the video camera as a crutch". It was "as personal a moment I ever felt" in a musical, Miranda explained, and "that was when my career as a writer of musical theatre really began".
Miranda said he's drawn to characters who are very aware of mortality. He revealed that his kindergarten friend accidentally drowned in a lake, and he experienced "six months of grey". "When that hits you early, you're aware of the ticking clock early," he explained, noting how well JK Rowling captures the feeling with Harry seeing the thestrals in Harry Potter.
As for the "genius" tag, Miranda said he tries to knock down that pedestal so as to avoid disappointing people, but did convey how grateful he is for his parents' lifelong support and belief in him.
Speaking of Hurricane Maria and Puerto Rico, Miranda said that the island struggled with "challenges no American city had faced", and with no help - his aunt and uncle lived on generators for five months. "It was a stark reminder of the colonial status of this island," he added, noting President Trump's incorrect death count. Performing Hamilton there was one of his "toughest and most triumphant" experiences.
Miranda said he's currently enjoying filming His Dark Materials in "beautiful" Cardiff, and that his son loves all the castles. The TV adaptation of Philip Pullman's novel will premiere on BBC One on 3 November and on HBO on 4 November.
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