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Did you hear the news? Hamilton is coming to the big screen in 2021. And to widespread cheer of die-hard fans of the musical, it will be a filmed performance of the original Broadway cast captured, as by Tommy Kail back in 2016. What many wouldn’t have given to see Lin-Manuel Miranda, Daveed Diggs and company throw the raps and rhymes of the production when the first cast assembled. They are the voices behind the bestselling cast album fans have played over and over in their cars. It’s just about the best version of a Hamilton movie that could happen.
Sure, Hamilton was a pop-culture phenomenon and 11-time Tony winner, but you may have skipped over it back when it became big. I get it. Without witnessing the magic of Hamilton on Broadway, it may have been difficult to understand the vision behind Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hip-hop musical about the Founding Fathers of America. Five years later, it’s still the hottest ticket in musical theater. If you’re curious about all the hype, the talent of Hamilton’s original cast will get you on the bandwagon for Disney’s latest acquisition.
For many of these actors, they were unknowns before Hamilton. Since they starred in the show, tons of incredible opportunities have flung their way. You know them better than you might realize. Check out the original cast of Hamilton and the roles they play in the upcoming theatrical experience:
Lin-Miranda Miranda (Alexander Hamilton)
If you’ve heard of Hamilton, you’ve heard the name Lin-Manuel Miranda. He is not only the star of the Broadway musical, Miranda wrote the music and lyrics for the visionary production as well. The musical is inspired by a 2004 biography of Alexander Hamilton, written by Ron Chernow. The playwright had previously found success on the stage with In the Heights – a more traditional live-action musical from Crazy Rich Asians’ director Jon M. Chu is coming this summer. But when Hamilton exploded, so did Miranda.
The best introduction to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton is through the time he decided to go to the White House Poetry Jam back in 2009 and experiment with his early work on the project after being asked to perform something from In the Heights. Check it out:
What’s crazy about this video is the audience laughed at his concept, not knowing it would become a well-respected piece of music. But hey, the Obamas dug it! His first performance gives a peek into the unique enchantment of his storytelling. Years later Hamilton would become a fully realized musical. Miranda’s portrayal of Alexander Hamilton follows his life, as he journeys to New York, falls in love and butts heads with other American founders.
Miranda left Hamilton as its main star in July 2016 and has since gained a continuing relationship with Disney on various projects. He wrote original songs for Moana – scoring him an Oscar nomination, and he’s working with Alan Menken on additional songs for the live-action remake of The Little Mermaid. He also composed the new cantina song in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and played Jack the Lamplighter in 2018’s Mary Poppins Returns.
Leslie Odom Jr. (Aaron Burr)
Also in the Hamilton original cast is Leslie Odom Jr, who plays Aaron Burr in the production, a.k.a the man who shot Alexander Hamilton. He was the third vice president of the United States during Thomas Jefferson’s first term. He meets Hamilton in the musical’s second song “Aaron Burr, Sir”, when a young Hamilton looks up, approaches him as his hero and asks for advice. Since starring in Hamilton, Leslie Odom Jr has found success as a solo artist with three albums under his belt and a Christmas-themed one. His first movie was in 2017’s Murder on the Orient Express and he played William Still in the Oscar-nominated Harriet.
Daveed Diggs (Marquis de Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson)
Daveed Diggs’ career certainly has Hamilton to thank for his skyrocketing career. In the last few years alone, the actor has found roles in The Get Down, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Black-ish and Star Wars Resistance on television, with a starring role in TNT’s television adaptation of Bong Joon-ho’s Snowpiercer coming this summer. He’s done some voice work for Ferdinand, Netflix’s Green Eggs and Ham and soon for Pixar’s Soul, and he’ll reportedly be Sebastian in the live-action The Little Mermaid. Perhaps his most memorable role is in the critically-acclaimed Blindspotting. He plays President Jefferson and French aristocrat and military leader Marquis de Lafayette in the musical.
Jonathan Groff (King George III)
Playing the hilarious and villainous King George in Hamilton is none-other-than Jonathan Groff. The star is a well-known Broadway actor, known for being in the original cast for Spring Awakening, but he can count Hamilton too. Glee fans will remember his role as Jesse St. James on the music-themed series. And in Frozen, Groff is the voice of Princess Anna’s love-interest, Kristoff. His Disney character recently nabbed his own song in Frozen II with “Lost in the Woods”. Additionally, you’ve seen him in two seasons of Netflix’s gritty psychological thriller from David Fincher, Mindhunter and HBO’s Looking. King George has a small role in Hamilton but it's a memorable one.
Chris Jackson (George Washington)
Portraying the first President of the United States in the hip-hop musical is Chris Jackson, who actually filmed CBS court drama series Bull in between playing shows on Broadway at one point. In Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s character becomes an associate of Washington as detailed in “Right Hand Man”. He’s a central character in the musical and the actor continued to collaborate with Miranda in Moana as the singing voice of Moana’s father Chief Tui in his original song, “Where You Are”. He also has a voice role in The Lion Guard as a gorilla named Shujaa.
Anthony Ramos (John Laurens/Philip Hamilton)
Anthony Ramos will do the honors of being in two big screen adaptations of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s plays. This summer he’ll play the lead Usnavi de la Vega in In the Heights. Prior to landing this massive Hollywood role, Anthony Ramos played two roles in Hamilton that will be showcased in the upcoming movie. Ramos plays John Laurens, one of the statesman and soldiers of the time and Alexander Hamilton’s first son, Philip. You’ve also seen the actor in the Will & Grace reboot, She’s Gotta Have It television series, Lady Gaga’s friend Ramon in A Star is Born and as Corporal Martinez in Godzilla: King of Monsters.
Renée Elise Goldsberry (Angelica Schuyler)
The emotional core of Hamilton is Renée Elise Goldsberry’s Angelica Schuyler. She is the oldest of three wealthy sisters in the musical who are seeking husbands. Hamilton falls in love with her sister Eliza, when Angelica too has feelings for Miranda’s character. Her big song “Satisfied” is a standout moment in the musical. Along with her work in this play, she played the role of an African-American pioneer in Oprah’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, House with a Clock in its Walls and is a regular character of Quellcrist Falconer in Altered Carbon.
Phillipa Soo (Eliza Schuyler Hamilton)
Phillipa Soo plays the role of Eliza, who notably sings “Helpless” and “Burn” in Hamilton, marries the titular character and has a key arc in the musical. After leaving Hamilton in 2016 like Lin-Manuel Miranda and Leslie Odom Jr, Soo went on to take on more roles on Broadway including playing the lead role in new musical Amelie and in The Parisian Woman. Right now, Soo plays Lieutenant Harper Li on the CBS series about members of the military in The Code.
Jasmine Cephas Jones (Peggy Schuyler/Maria Reynolds)
The Hamilton cast really sticks together! Jasmine Cephas Jones most notable role outside the musical is a role in Blindspotting with Daveed Diggs. She plays Ashley in the comedy and social commentary about two old best friends. The actress has the small role of the youngest Schuyler sister in the musical and Maria Reynolds, who Hamilton has a love affair with in the production. Jones has also guest-starred on Girls and can be spotted in the background in Marriage Story. She’s also in The Photograph with Issa Rae and Lakeith Stanfield.
Okieriete Onaodowan (Hercules Mulligan/James Madison)
To round out the talented Hamilton cast is Okieriete Onaodowan, who has dabbled in television acting. He has guest starred on Grey’s Anatomy as Dean Miller – his regular firefighter role on Station 19 that he has played for three seasons so far. He was once a complete unknown before Hamilton came around. After Hamilton he also followed Josh Groban’s role in Pierre in Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812. Hercules Mulligan is one of the first characters that Hamilton meets and James Madison is the fourth President of the United States and Founding Father.
Now that’s an impressive cast! Hamilton hits theaters on October 15, 2021. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s first big-screen musical In the Heights is coming first on June 26, 2020.