“I didn’t have any TV or film experience really by the time we shot this,” Hamilton star and Emmy nominee Daveed Diggs said of the Disney+ filmed version of the Tony-, Grammy- and Pulitzer-winning musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda. “Tommy told me, do your show and we’ll catch the show,” the Snowpiercer star added of veteran director Thomas Kail’s calming instruction back in 2016.
Diggs, who played both Thomas Jefferson and the Marquis de Lafayette in Hamilton onstage and on-camera, was speaking during the movie’s panel at Deadline’s Contenders Television: The Nominees awards-season event. Hamilton has scored 12 nominations for the upcoming 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards including for Outstanding Variety Special (Pre-recorded) and a bevy of acting noms.
Diggs was joined remotely on the panel by fellow Hamilton original castmates and Emmy nominees Renée Elise Goldsberry (Angelica Schuyler), Contenders alum Leslie Odom Jr. who plays the pistol shooting Vice President Aaron Burr, and Phillipa Soo (Eliza Hamilton).
For Soo, the breadth and reach of Hamilton in all mediums is a raison d’être unto itself in many ways.
“I feel like it is why I wanted to be a storyteller, was to tell stories and have people who were listening feel like they were seen in those stories,” she said. “And ultimately in the hopes that that builds a collective empathy, a collective desire to learn about one another and learn about ourselves … and continue those conversations after we see this piece of art that we’re witnessing.”
Debuting on the relatively newly launched Disney+ on July 3, Hamilton proved a cultural touchstone yet again as America and the world hunkered down in the first months of the Covid-19 pandemic. Shifted from the 2021 theatrical release that the House of Mouse originally intended before the global health crisis put the nation in lockdown and saw cinema doors locked, the musical hybrid tale of the nation’s first Treasury Secretary saw a surge of subscribers and downloads for Disney+
Shot over a series of live performances in 2016 at Broadway’s Richard Rodgers Theatre, Hamilton the movie saw the cast develop some new strengths for the new platform.
“I learned that there was a way that the performance had to be modulated,” Odom revealed.
“All of us, you know, we had to take up space at the Richard Rodgers to make sure that the people who were so dear to us in that very last row of the balcony were getting an experience just as potent as the beautiful people in the front row,” the Oscar-nominated One Night in Miami actor added. “So anyway, once they brought those cameras on stage, it was an opportunity to tell an even more intimate story.”
For Goldsberry, Hamilton the Disney+ movie was the legacy of Hamilton the stage show, figuratively as well as literally.
“I believe an honest emotion works whether you are on a stage or shooting a film or shooting a television show,” Goldsberry said. “But my biggest challenge with filming it was to turn the part of my voice off that said people are going to think it was my performance for two years, this is just my performance tonight.”
Hamilton the movie was produced by RadicalMedia. If you didn’t know, the book, music, and lyrics are by Miranda, with direction by Kail.
Check out the panel video above.