In The Heights Director On How Casting Anthony Ramos Helped Nail Down The Entire Movie

Usnavi opening up his bodega during In the Heights trailer

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In the Heights is poised to push Anthony Ramos’ career in a new direction. Ramos’ presence made musical and film audiences anticipate the musical film’s eventual release. But Ramos’ impact on the Warner Bros flick goes beyond just being its charismatic lead. Director Jon M. Chu was having trouble with the musical adaptation until the actor came into the picture. The In the Heights director broke down how Ramos’ casting helped to nail down the entire movie.

Anthony Ramos was brought aboard to play In the Height’s Usnavi. The actor’s casting served as an epiphany for director Jon M. Chu. The In the Heights filmmaker said the following about Ramos’ casting impacted the much-delayed musical film:

The moment I met him is the moment the whole movie wrapped around him, not the other way around. He wasn’t coming into our movie — we were coming to him. He is a tone. I’m trying to use his whole being and spread it out to the world.

As evident by the response to the In the Heights trailer, Jon M. Chu was right in his assessment of Anthony Ramos’ star quality and charisma. Given the momentum of Hamilton, In the Heights is the prime opportunity to push Ramos into leading man status. From all the previews, the actor has taken over the role of Usnavi from Lin-Manuel Miranda and made it his own. He serves as the center of this small community within this bigger world without taking away from other characters.

But this wasn’t the first time Jon M. Chu has sung Anthony Ramos’ praises. The director stated to The New York Times that the actor “fills every box” when it comes to being a Hollywood leading man. Chu admitted that Ramos and Lin-Manuel Miranda had to convince him about the former being the top choice. When you look at the trailer, Chu made the right choice by casting Ramos as the lead.

This wasn’t the first time Anthony Ramos’ casting was doubted. Lin-Manuel Miranda revealed that casting In the Heights was an uphill battle. Miranda spoke about Warner Bros. wanting big-name Latin stars and musicians to fill the film’s cast. Thankfully, the Hollywood renaissance man won, and rising stars such as Ramos and Leslie Grace got a chance at a big-budget musical. Even the actor expressed how gratefulness to be part of the Warner Bros. musical film.

Even before In the Heights is released, the film’s cache has paid off with more lead roles for Anthony Ramos. Given the hype for the film, both it and Ramos are poised to be among summer 2021’s most talked-about topics. Fans will get to see Ramos’ full talents on display when the Warner Bros. musical arrives in theaters and on HBO Max on June 11. You can sign up for the streaming service with this link.

Adreon Patterson
News Writer

A boy from Greenwood, South Carolina. CinemaBlend Contributor. An animation enthusiast (anime, US and international films, television). Freelance writer, designer and artist. Lover of music (US and international).