Leslie Odom Jr. Reflects On Why He Was Ready To Say Goodbye To Hamilton When The Time Came

Leslie Odom Jr. played Aaron Burr on Broadway more than 500 times and whether you ever saw him on the stage or not, it's a role that he will likely be associated with for the rest of his life. It's clear that the role meant a lot to him. He wouldn't have done it 500 times if he didn't love doing it. And yet, the actor, who can now be seen in another great role in the film One Night in Miami, says that he was ready to say goodbye to the role when the time came, in part, because he's always getting ready to let a role go, as soon as he starts with it, even something like Hamilton.

Leslie Odom Jr. spoke in Variety recently about both his performance in Hamilton and in One Night in Miami. It's clear that both roles are very special to him. In both he plays somewhat fictionalized versions of real and important people. Odom says that while both roles were dear to him, that didn't make it any harder to move on. While he loves the beginning of a role he also loves the end of it, and so when it was time for him to move on, he had no hesitation. According to Odom...

I have gotten used to the rhythm of this, the rhythm of this side of this business. It’s beginnings and endings. I love a beginning and I love an ending. I really am usually ready to let the character and the project go. Even something like with Hamilton, which before this project [One Night In Miami] was the most dear to me. The thing that I worked on that was the most dear to me. I was ready to go; when it was time to go I was ready.

When you play a single role as often as Leslie Odom Jr. played Aaron Burr, you likely either become completely invested in it or you look forward to the day when you stop. Playing Sam Cooke in One Night in Miami was certainly a different experience, not only because he only played the role for a brief period, but because he had to be willing to not only let go of the role as a whole when it was done, but let go of each part of the performance as the scenes were filmed. Odom says that when he played Burr, there was always another show where he could change or improve his performance, but making a movie after a few takes it was all done. Odom goes on...

I was there; I was present; I lived it. There’s a part of me that is letting go the whole time. With film, you really do leave every day in the rear view. With theater, I always had another day to get the scene right. I always had another day of working for it. I had always another day of “Room Where It Happens.”

Leslie Odom Jr. makes some good points here about how one needs to be able to let go of a performance, whether it's one you do hundreds of times over the course of years or just work on for a few months. Which is not to say Odom needs to forget about those roles entirely. They're both immortalized on film, so he, and we, can experience them whenever we like.

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian, Dirk began writing for CinemaBlend as a freelancer in 2015 before joining the site full-time in 2018. He has previously held positions as a Staff Writer and Games Editor, but has more recently transformed his true passion into his job as the head of the site's Theme Park section. He has previously done freelance work for various gaming and technology sites. Prior to starting his second career as a writer he worked for 12 years in sales for various companies within the consumer electronics industry. He has a degree in political science from the University of California, Davis.  Is an armchair Imagineer, Epcot Stan, Future Club 33 Member.