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On The Late Show, Lin-Manuel Miranda talks Puerto Rico, his new book, and closing Hamilton's loop

Lin-Manuel Miranda, Stephen Colbert
Screenshot: The Late Show

Hamilton creator and one of the last pure, good things left in this world Lin-Manuel Miranda stopped by The Late Show on Tuesday. Sure, he’s got a new book out, a typically delightful-looking collection of his Twitter aphorisms and original drawings (because of course the noted polymath can draw, too), but he and host Stephen Colbert quickly got down to Hamilton business. “I hope that went well,” deadpanned Colbert after noting that he’d first met Miranda right when the groundbreaking show hit Broadway. And, you know, it’s gone okay, frankly, as the universally lauded musical has now opened in England, where a slightly nervous Miranda watched the opening night alongside Prince Harry and new bride Meghan Markle, wondering how the royal types were going to take the play’s portrayal of the crowd-pleasingly villainous King George III. Noting that he was watching his complexly patriotic work alongside the sixth great grandson of the guy he depicted gleefully promising to kill a bunch of colonists’ friends and family (in a theater named for Harry’s fourth great grandmother), Miranda was relieved to report that Harry was a good sport about it all. He was also reassured when Dame Helen Mirren told him that the British love when Americans “take the piss” out of the royals.

Telling Colbert about his upcoming return to Hamilton (“I’m getting back in the blouse,” as he put it) when the show opens in Puerto Rico in January, Miranda confessed to a little anxiousness there, too. Luckily, as he claimed, should he forget a line of one of his own songs, he’s got an excuse all ready. “It’s a rewrite,” he joked, explaining that his momentous return to the role he hasn’t played since 2016 is all in service of helping rebuild a Puerto Rico still crippled and reeling from Hurricane Maria, and the U.S. government’s infamously neglectful response. (All proceeds from what will no doubt be the dump truck full of cash raised by the performances will go to Puerto Rican arts organizations.)


Speaking of Caribbean islands being all but wiped out by hurricanes, Miranda shared with Colbert the poetic symmetry he sees in bringing Hamilton back to the region. Assuring Colbert that the story will appeal to his “nerd history-loving brain,” Miranda explained how Alexander Hamilton originally came to the colonies from his home of St. Croix after a hurricane obliterated that island, and a group of citizens there, noting the young man’s promise, raised money to send him to the mainland. They’d hoped he’d become a doctor and then return to repay them with service which, yeah, that didn’t happen. So, as Miranda put it, bringing Hamilton to the area to help alleviate the suffering brought on by another hurricane is “sort of closing Hamilton’s loop here.” What can you say, the guy knows a good ending.

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Dennis Perkins

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.