It’s a big Thanksgiving week for multihyphenate Lin-Manuel Miranda: His feature directorial debut, Jonathan Larson’s tick, tick…Boom!, dropped Friday on Netflix, and the Disney animated musical Encanto, for which he wrote all the songs and has a story by credit, hits movie theaters.
All of this can only further propel the Hamilton architect toward an ultimate EGOT, Miranda already having two Emmy wins under his belt along with three Grammys and three Tonys.
You can listen to our first Crew Call podcast of Oscar season with Miranda below:
Miranda came into the Disney fold well before the uber-success of Hamilton, having submitted a song packet to be part of the studio’s composer ranks. After writing the song “How Far I’ll Go” for Disney’s Moana which earned him an Oscar nom, Miranda told the studio, “If you’re doing a Latina-themed anything, I’ll sharpen pencils; I just want to be in the room. And I want to be on the ground floor so I can help with the story.”
The Colombia-set Encanto tells the story of Mirabel (Stephanie Beatriz), a girl who lives with her huge family, each of them possessing a magical talent. However, Mirabel does not have one. As her Abuela looks to keep the family’s legend alive with future generations, bad luck befalls their dynasty, some believing it’s prompted by casted-out uncle Bruno (John Leguizamo). However, it’s Mirabel who ultimately demonstrates the power and smarts to keep them together.
“I was inspired by Howard Ashman and what he brought in Disney’s golden age,” Miranda says about his jumping-off point for Encanto. “What musical numbers can do, how they can dilate time and tell a story and work and amplify the animated visual image.”
Miranda savored the first song in Ashman’s Beauty and the Beast, “Belle”, which introduced all the characters in one song during the film’s opening. It’s that structure he looked to for Encanto‘s first ditty, “The Family Madrigal.”
In 2018, Miranda journeyed to Colombia to research the country’s music, a big takeaway from that being the accordion-infused songs in Encanto.
The song Miranda is submitting to the Academy Awards this year is the film’s Spanish-language “Dos Oruguitas.” It will play in Spanish in every version of Encanto around the world, and he was inspired by such standards as “Guantanamera” and “Cielito Lindo” in creating a timeless folk sound.
Inspired by the butterfly miracle metaphor animation visuals, Miranda says “Dos Oruguitas” is about “two caterpillars who are in love, and they’re scared of letting go, but they have to let each other go and that’s the only way the miracle is going to happen.”
“It’s a perfect metaphor here for this family: They love each other, but they’re holding on too tight, and not letting them become the next version of themselves,” Miranda says.
In regards to tick, tick…Boom!, Miranda was long-inspired in his own career by the late Larson and his contemporary New York early ’90s musical Rent, about the city’s bohemians and artists. Miranda even played Larson in the 2014 stage version of tick, tick…Boom! It’s there that film producer Julie Oh caught Miranda’s performance, and talks about a potential future film began in that moment. Miranda got the offer to direct from Oh during the production of Mary Poppins Returns, Oh finally securing the rights to tick, tick…Boom! as an executive at Brian Grazer and Ron Howard’s Imagine.
Miranda tells us about how he landed Andrew Garfield for the role of Larson, the pausing and restarting of the production during Covid, and assembling the huge musical number “Sunday” that features Broadway greats Joel Grey, Beth Malone, Bebe Neuwirth, Bernadette Peters, Chita Rivera and Phillipa Soo.