When Lin-Manuel Miranda walks into the room and immediately says “This is like a really nice version of that scene in The Godfather. [LAUGHTER] You’re all just so happy and smiling. Alright, how does this work? I’m an open book.”, you know it is going to be a great interview. Musical talent abounds in Lin-Manuel Miranda, who these days is very well known for his Broadway, Hamilton (which he was actually working on while working on the music for Moana). I am thankful to have had the opportunity to chat with him about his work on the music for Moana, his love of Disney and about what is next for him.
Here’s what else Lin-Manuel Miranda shared during our interview:
- On the same day he found out he was going to be a father, he was offered the job for Moana and was off to New Zealand later that evening.
- I mentioned this earlier but wanted to expand on it: While he was working on the music for Moana, he was also writing Hamilton.
“I did a lot of writing in the theater. A lot of the early demos are Pippa Soo and Chris Jackson singing, Maui and Moana, ‘cause they were my in-house band….so I have a ton of Pippa demos…on the deluxe edition, when it comes out, you’ll hear Marcy Harriell, singing a cut Moana song that was called “More”.”
- He’s really proud of the song. “How far I’ll go” and literally locked himself up in his childhood bedroom at his parents’ house to write those lyrics. He went on to say
“…so I went method on that and really because it’s a challenging song. It’s not, I hate it here, I want to be out there. It’s not, there must be more than this provincial life. She loves her island, she loves her parents, she loves her people and there’s still this voice inside…”
- Being a major Disney fan, he described being part of the Disney Family as “pretty dope”. It was his love for the music in The Little Mermaid that made him want to pursue music.
“The Little Mermaid …came out when I was nine years old. I saw it when I was on a play date with my friend…and this crab starts singing a Caribbean calypso tune. [LAUGHTER] And I was never the same again. I used to get up on my desk in fourth grade and sing it. I remember calling in sick from school, on March 19th, because that was the day it came out on VHS, and I didn’t want to wait ‘til school ended. [LAUGHTER] I wanted to go to the drug store that morning, ‘cause remember the soft covers? I wanted to get it that day, and I wasn’t going to wait. So I was sick, and I had a stomach ache! And I saw Little Mermaid at ten a.m. [LAUGHTER].”
- The most exciting part for Lin-Manuel Miranda was the story meetings. He went on to say that…
“You sit at a table, a lot like this, except it’s perfectly round, and the notes are not from execs, the notes are from Jen Lee, the co-director of Frozen, from Pete Docter, who’s working on Inside Out, and did Big Hero 6. Like, everyone who…are the ones who are kicking the tires on your story, and making it better…that was my favorite part of the process…getting to meekly raise my hand, and being like, I think a song could do that better.”
- When asked who he looks up to, Lin – Manuel said…
“I think that’s how you figure out who you are, is you chase your heroes…I chased Ashman Menken, I chased Sondheim. I chased Jonathan Larson, I chased Biggie, I chased Tupac and in falling short of all of those, I end up with that style that is an accent I can’t hear…”
- Lin-Manuel feels that if you make a song lyric feel really conversational, it’s easier for the audience to bridge the gap between people bursting into song because it just feels like the way people actually speak.
- Lin-Miranda shared what inspires him and what he’ll be working on in the future
“…I think you balance the things you’ve been dying to do all your life. And the opportunities that come along, that you didn’t maybe think of, that are so amazing, that you’d kick yourself if you didn’t try to be a part of them…there’s the ideas that are still in my head, that were around before Hamilton…so, I will continue to sort of balance those things. But I also want to stay open. I think every writer’s had the experience of having a really good idea, waiting to write it, and then once you write it, you’re like, oh. I kind of got past the sell by date, on this…I’m going to live in London for six months. Who knows what that will inspire?…I very much subscribe to the Moana feeling of listening to that voice inside you.”
- When it comes to criticism, Lin-Manuel will read them but then he’s able to shrug them off. But if something sort of sticks the next day, there’s probably something to it. So he tries to trust his gut.
At the end of the interview, he said “Thanks, guys. I gotta take a picture of this, ‘cause it’s really — this is like, uh, just, uh, too much love in one room. Alright, say hi to Twitter”
It was such a great interview!!!
Moana sails into theaters November 23rd!
Three thousand years ago, the greatest sailors in the world voyaged across the vast Pacific, discovering the many islands of Oceania. But then, for a millennium, their voyages stopped – and no one knows exactly why. From Walt Disney Animation Studios comes “Moana,” a sweeping, CG-animated feature film about an adventurous teenager who sails out on a daring mission to save her people. During her journey, Moana (voice of Auli‘i Cravalho) meets the mighty demigod Maui (voice of Dwayne Johnson), who guides her in her quest to become a master wayfinder. Together, they sail across the open ocean on an action-packed voyage, encountering enormous monsters and impossible odds, and along the way, Moana fulfills the ancient quest of her ancestors and discovers the one thing she’s always sought: her own identity.
Stay Connected to Moana:
- Like Moana on Facebook
- Follow Moana on Twitter
- Follow Disney Animation on Instagram
- Visit Disney Animation on Tumblr
- Visit the official Moana website
*I was invited by Disney to attend a press junket covering Moana. All opinions are my own.