Thursday 17 October 2019

Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda haunted by death after childhood tragedy

The multi-talented star thinks about death often.

Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda has appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs (Matt Crossick/PA)
Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda has appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs (Matt Crossick/PA)

By Craig Simpson, PA

Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda has said he constantly thinks about death following a childhood tragedy.

The lyricist and performer revealed he is marked by an increased awareness of mortality after losing a close friend when he was young

Miranda revealed he is often reminded of the “ticking clock” and death has influenced his fascination with certain characters.

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Lin-Manuel Miranda refuses the title of genius (Isabel Infantes/PA)

The performer spoke on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs about his life, which was influenced early on by loss.

He said: “I think that you’re marked by your awareness of it, and how much you let it affect your day to day.

“I notice it. I’m very aware of it. I think I’m drawn to characters that are aware of it.

“Part of it is growing up in New York. You’re kind of always a little on alert.

“I also experienced death at a young age. My best friend who I went to kindergarten with died very young, and it’s one of those terrible stories.

“I had this memory from nursery school of just like six months of grey.

“When that hits you early, you’re aware of the ticking clock earlier.”

His choice of Alexander Hamilton as a subject was influenced by a morbid sensibility, aware that the politician died relatively young at 47 in a duel.

I'm human and I mess up all the time.

The musical based on his life was a smash hit that earned acclaim from the Obamas, but Miranda refuses the title of genius.

He told Lauren Laverne: “I’ve known too many geniuses, actually geniuses, to count myself among them.

“I think I work very hard, I think I am talented, I do not think that is the same thing.

“I just try to think of it as a vote of confidence from the universe of, like, keep going.

“If you start to take that seriously, that’s pretty much when everyone gets to say ‘no you’re not’.

“I try to knock that pedestal out from under myself as often as I can. Because if you try and live up to that kind of word, you’re setting yourself and everyone around you up for disappointment.

“I’m human and I mess up all the time.”

Miranda can be heard on BBC Sounds and BBC Radio 4 at 11.15am on Sunday.

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