EXCLUSIVE: Deadline hears that Straight Outta Compton‘s Corey Hawkins has been tapped for the role of Benny in Jon M. Chu’s feature adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s four-time Tony winning musical In the Heights for Warner Bros.
In the original storyline, bodega owner Usnavi (who will be played in the movie by Anthony Ramos) strikes it rich and plans to leave, until the pull of the Latino neighborhood and the people in it give him pause. Set in the Upper Manhattan neighborhood of Washington Heights, the plot revolves around Usnavi, a college student, a taxi driver, a beauty salon worker and an old woman who aspire to better lives as gentrification begins to take hold, and a sweltering summer power blackout brings their personal life crises to a head.
In the original musical, Benny falls in love with Nina, who the neighborhood admires as “the one who made it out.” She enrolled in Stanford, but dropped out and returns home. Benny works for Nina’s father, Kevin, and dreams of opening his own business. However, Nina’s father refuses to accept Benny as Nina’s beau.
Anthony Bregman, Mara Jacobs, Scott Sanders and Miranda are producing. Marc Klein is penning the script, with musical book by Quiara Alegría Hudes.
Hawkins is a Julliard graduate. He starred on Broadway in Romeo & Juliet as Tybalt and was nominated in 2017 for a Tony Award for his role in Six Degrees of Separation. Hawkins has straddled film and theater work throughout the course of his career, landing a pivotal role in Spike Lee’s Oscar-nominated BlacKkKlansman and recently wrappig a lead role in Michael Bay’s Netflix feature 6 Underground.
He is represented by CAA and Jackoway Austen.