Movies & TV

Manuel Miranda on Moana, Mary Poppins

LOS ANGELES: Award-winning “Hamilton” musical creator Lin-Manuel Miranda swaps the politics of 18th-century Washington for the charms of Polynesia in the animated movie “Moana.” Miranda, 36, worked with musicians from the South Pacific to create original songs for the movie about a plucky teenage girl who sets sail on an epic journey to help save her tribe. He spoke with Reuters about “Moana,” scheduled to open in Lebanese theaters Dec. 8, and his work as an actor on the upcoming “Mary Poppins” movie.

The interview took place before Friday’s performance of “Hamilton” in New York, at which U.S. Vice President-elect Mike Pence was booed by some audience members and the cast of the play – with Miranda’s support – urged Pence to “work on behalf of all of us.” President-elect Donald Trump said the cast owed Pence an apology.

Following are edited excerpts of the Miranda interview.

Q: What were you eager to capture of the Pacific Island community when you were working with Samoan-born musician Opetaia Foa’i and his band Te Vaka?

A: We all went into this keenly aware that this is a part of the world that isn’t represented on screen very much so you want the people who live there to see the movie and say ‘Hey, that’s us,’ with pride. Opetaia took the lead on the rhythms and harmonies ... I’m Ginger Rogers – he leads the dance and I write lyrics, I write melodies.

Q: Which was your favorite song?

A: The one that represents our collaboration the best is “We Know The Way.” We started writing that the weekend we met. We met in New Zealand [and] we went to this Pacifica music festival where we heard choirs from all over the different islands.

Q: How has life been post-Hamilton?

A: I love the subway in New York. I think it’s a national treasure. I did a lot of writing on the train. For a while, I couldn’t take the train without someone sitting next to me and talking to me ... [Now] I’m working on a movie in London. I can walk around with my son [and] it’s not a big deal, so it’s nice to have that back.

Q: What can you tell us about your character Jack [in “Mary Poppins”]? Will we be hearing a Cockney accent?

A: You’re going to hear the worst accent you’ve ever heard in your life! You’re not going to know what country I’m from. It’s going to sound like I came from another planet!

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on November 25, 2016, on page 12.

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