Hamilton’s Leslie Odom Jr. Explains Why Burr Is The Narrator

Leslie Odom Jr. singing "Wait For It"

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Lin-Manuel Miranda's Hamilton has been a pop culture sensation since it debuted on Broadway in 2015. But the fandom has grown immensely since Hamilton hit Disney+ as a filmed stage production starring the original principal cast. Now anyone with a subscription can be in the room where it happened, and every moment of the musical has been discussed and dissected since it premiered in early July. One of the questions surrounding Hamilton is why Leslie Odom Jr.'s Aaron Burr serves as the narrator, and now the Tony winning actor himself has shared his thoughts.

While Hamilton is very much about Alexander and Eliza, Leslie Odom Jr.'s Aaron Burr is the other main character. He's got the first line in the show's opening number, and narrates throughout the decades of storytelling. The actor himself was recently asked this very question, with Leslie Odom Jr. sharing his thoughts, saying:

I would think of it like purgatory, Burr’s purgatory. He didn’t know what it was that he had to learn. So he’s gonna come out tonight and tell the story one more time. And if he could just figure out where it went wrong, if he could just find the moment where it went wrong. And he could say, ‘Ah, there it is. Here’s where I made the mistake. Here’s where I should have stopped it.’ If he could just figure that thing out then he could move on.

Well, that adds an entirely new level to Hamilton. It looks like Leslie Odom Jr. has always believed that the show in some ways is his purgatory, with Aaron Burr forced to re-live his failing and missteps over and over again. And just like that the show has a narrator, and a second protagonist for the audience to follow through the infancy of America.

Leslie Odom Jr. shared his thoughts about Aaron Burr's role as Hamilton's narrator during a conversation with MSNBC. Odom's Tony winning performance as Burr is now immortalized thanks to the Disney+ movie, further elevating the star power of the cast. And given how dense Lin-Manuel Miranda's blockbuster musical is, there have been plenty of follow-up questions to the show's contents.

Hamilton is currently streaming exclusively on Disney+. You can use this link to sign up for the streaming service.

In the final moments of Hamilton's opening number, Aaron Burr admits "I'm the damn fool that shot him." The show's ending is teased early on, and clearly Leslie Odom Jr.'s signature character clearly regrets his fateful duel with Alexander. Now these lines make all the more sense, given how Odom approached the show as if it's purgatory.

Leslie Odom Jr. brought an extremely cerebral performance to Hamilton, which definitely showed in the Disney+ movie. The audience is cued into the character's unique perspective and sense of morality, and watch as he's shut out by Alexander time and time again throughout the years. The audience understands why the two eventually meet in the dueling ground, without either character ever becoming a villain.

One of the most tragic moments comes after Alexander is shot in "The World Was Wide Enough", and Aaron Burr laments about how history will paint him for his mistake. Perhaps this is the moment where the character finally understands what went wrong, with the finale ending his purgatory. There's no concrete answer, but shows how much conversation can still be had around Hamilton's contents.

Hamilton is currently streaming on Disney+. Be sure to check out our 2020 release to plan your next movie experience.

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Graduated with degrees theater and literature from Ramapo College of New Jersey. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid. He's particularly proud of covering horror franchises like Scream and Halloween, as well as movie musicals like West Side Story. Favorite interviews include Steven Spielberg, Spike Lee, Jamie Lee Curtis, and more.