ENTERTAINMENT

At Sundance, Lin-Manuel Miranda shares the spotlight

Jan 26, 2020, 5:18 PM
Director John James, from left, Luis Miranda, and Lin-Manuel Miranda pose for a portrait to promote...
Director John James, from left, Luis Miranda, and Lin-Manuel Miranda pose for a portrait to promote the film "Siempre, Luis" at the Music Lodge during the Sundance Film Festival on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020, in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Taylor Jewell/Invision/AP)
(Photo by Taylor Jewell/Invision/AP)

PARK CITY, Utah (AP) — Lin-Manuel Miranda knows that, for some, the story of his life is already written.
“If I can put it absolutely morbidly, I know that ‘Hamilton’ is the first line in my obituary,” Miranda says with an unusually chipper tone for someone contemplating their death. “Like, good! Done! I know nothing will ever be ‘Hamilton’ again and I’m fine with that. I think artists start to go off the rails when they try to chase that again and again.”

A pair of new documentaries premiering at the Sundance Film Festival this week capture a wider view of Miranda’s life through some of the people who have been most foundational to him. “Siempre, Luis” is a profile of his father, the tireless Puerto Rico advocate Luis Miranda. “We Are Freestyle Love Supreme” documents the improvised hip-hop show that Miranda and several of his “Hamilton” collaborators regularly put on before “In the Heights” altered Miranda’s trajectory, and which they recently reformed on Broadway.

“Life’s not a linear narrative. It’s not this and this and this ascent. It’s all these side journeys,” Miranda says in “We Are Freestyle Love Supreme.” “Life gets complicated and you keep going. There’s no endpoint. What’s that Orson Wells’ quote? If you want to tell a story with a happy ending, it depends on where you end the story.”

Both films are, in a way, origin stories for the 40-year-old Miranda. But they are also stories that take some of the megawatt spotlight thrust on him by “Hamilton” and deflects it onto those around him.

“My son is the most collaborative human being that I know,” says the elder Miranda. “From sharing the Kennedy Center award with his other collaborators to making sure that everyone who did something important to him and accomplish that next goal gets accounted for and acknowledged. I understand why. I have a wonderful wife of 42 years who is exactly like that. It’s part of his DNA.”

“Siempre, Luis,” directed by John James, is a profile of Luis Miranda, the longtime New York political player. It took some time for Luis to get accustomed to the cameras being focused on him.

“I’ve spent all my life promoting a cause, an organization, elected officials, Lin-Manuel Miranda. So to all of a sudden be promoting myself is not a role I’ve had all my life. I was always pushing something, never being the center of attention. But I’ll tell you, though, it feels good! It’s like a narcissist’s dream.”

The film also depicts when son and father a year ago mounted “Hamilton” in Puerto Rico. For Lin-Manuel, Alexander Hamilton reminded him of his father, both immigrants who settled in New York.

“Anyone who’s seen ‘Hamilton’ and wonders ‘How much is this like its author’ will see my dad and go, ‘Oh, I get it now. He’s playing his dad,” says Lin-Manuel. “I saw in the sheer tonnage of what Hamilton accomplished in his lifetime — he pushed through the Federalist Papers while also running a law practice — and it reminded me of my father. When I’m playing Hamilton, I’m playing my dad.”

Sometimes, Luis reminds his son almost too much of the fiery founding father. “I’ve had moments with him where he’s about to very curtly respond to an email and I go, ‘Dad, don’t go Hamilton on them,'” says Lin-Manuel.

Andrew Fried’s “We Are Freestyle Love Supreme” traces the roots of many of the primary forces involved in “Hamilton,” including director Thomas Kail and actor Christopher Jackson, who originated the role of George Washington. But some of those who were part of “Freestyle Love Supreme,” for various reasons, didn’t come along on the “Hamilton” journey. Utkarsh Ambudkar was then at a low point, dealing with drug addiction.

“Some people were on this rocket ship and some weren’t,” says Lin-Manuel. “It’ lovely to be on the other side of it because I think we’re closer for it.”

As seen in the film, the members “Freestyle Love Supreme” reunited for a successful Broadway run of the show they used to perform in the basement of New York’s Drama Bookshop.

“It’s been our go-to. It’s been a part of all our lives,” says Lin-Manuel. “For me, creatively it’s the muscle groups that make everything I like stronger. You can’t indulge in writer’s block if you’re also getting on stage and creating a 90-minute musical with your friends.”

Miranda, who also appears in another Sundance documentary (“Mucho Mucho Amour,” about famed Puerto Rican psychic Walter Mercado), will this summer see the big-screen adaptation of “In the Heights” in movie theaters. And he still presides over the vast empire of “Hamilton.” Rather than devote himself to trying to write another mammoth musical, he has largely followed his passions. Among them: composing the music for Disney’s live-action remake of “The Little Mermaid” with Alan Menken.

“I only say yes to things that I would learn from and that I would kick myself forever if I didn’t say yes to,” says Miranda. “If you’re going to ask me if I want to write with Alan Menken on my favorite movie from my childhood, I’m going to say yes to that. You can look at the stuff from ‘Hamilton’ as burdensome or freeing, and I try to choose freeing.”

Today’s Top Stories

Entertainment

Salt Lake County is working to make sure its golf courses don't use as much water in the drought....
Martha Harris

Salt Lake County says it has decreased water-use on its golf courses

Salt Lake County says it has back water usage on its golf courses. The county says it has done by changing how they water.
17 hours ago
Fireworks light up the night sky over Liberty Park Thursday July 24, 2003 Photo by Scott G Winterto...
Mark Jackson

Fireworks and some open flames are now banned in Park City

Just before the holiday weekend, Park City has banned fireworks and non-permitted open flames due to extreme drought conditions and fire risk.
17 hours ago
Vehicles enter Zion National Park   on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020. With Independence Day set for Mond...
Mark Jones

Busy weekend expected at Zion National Park

With it being Independence Day on Monday, Zion National Park officials are expecting a busy weekend at the park and say visitors should expect long lines.
2 days ago
The Great Salt Lake Fringe Festival will make its in-person comeback from July 28 to Aug. 7. Courte...
Devin Oldroyd

The Great Salt Lake Fringe Festival is coming back to Salt Lake City

The Great Salt Lake Fringe Festival will make its in-person comeback from July 28 to Aug. 7.
2 days ago
Utah's Hogle Zoo welcomes a new red panda, Priya, to its Asian Highlands exhibit. Photo credit: Uta...
Devin Oldroyd

Hogle Zoo welcomes new Red Panda in effort to conserve the species

Utah's Hogle Zoo welcomes a new red panda, Priya, to its Asian Highlands exhibit. It hopes to breed her with Mow Mow, a red panda currently living there.
2 days ago
The Path of Art explores artists lives....
Ryan Meeks

New podcast aims to bring awareness about Utah’s artists, creatives

KSL Podcasts is launching a new podcast, The Path of Art, to share the stories of artists, comedians, performers, and more. Listen to the first episode here.
3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Tax Harassment...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
Prescription opioids can be disposed of during National Prescription Take Back Day...
Know Your Script

Prescription opioid misuse | How to protect your family from the opioid epidemic

Studies have shown that prescription opioid misuse has increased since COVID-19. So what do you need to know about these opioids?
national heart month...
Intermountain Healthcare

National Heart Month: 5 Lifestyle Changes to Make Today to Keep You Heart Healthy

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease
Joseph Smith Memorial Building...
Temple Square

The Joseph Smith Memorial Building is an icon of Salt Lake City | Why hosting an event at this beautiful location will make you a hero this year

Here's why hosting an event at the iconic Joseph Smith Memorial Building in downtown Salt Lake City will make you a hero this year.
At Sundance, Lin-Manuel Miranda shares the spotlight