Lin-Manuel Miranda can’t stop, won’t stop as he now adds “film director” to his lengthy list of credits.
The multi-faceted talent behind Broadway’s Hamilton and In the Heights is making his directorial debut on Tick, Tick… Boom!, a new film based on Rent creator Jonathan Larson’s autobiographical musical. Steven Levenson, the book writer behind Dear Evan Hansen, will pen the screen adaptation, while Ron Howard and Brian Grazer’s Imagine Entertainment will produce the project.
The theater production of Tick, Tick… Boom! began as a solo work in 1990. After Larson’s death in 1996, playwright David Auburn reworked the material to incorporate three actors with an Off-Broadway debut in 2001.
The story follows Jon, an aspiring theater composer working as a table waiter in New York City as he writes what he hopes to be the next great American musical. Approaching his 30th birthday, Jon wonders if his dreams are worth the anxiety and uncertainty, especially as his roommate gives up his creative pursuits for an advertising job and his girlfriend grows tired of putting her life on hold for Jon.
Larson tragically died the night before the first preview performance of Rent, which would go on to earn the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1996.
“Tick, Tick… Boom! first entered my life in college when I was lucky enough to snag a seat at the Jane Street Theater in 2001,” Miranda said in a statement. “Jonathan Larson’s captivating storytelling in Rent first taught me that musicals could be contemporary, true to life, and depict your own experiences. But it was Tick, Tick… Boom! that solidified that drive in me to hone my own voice as a playwright. On stage, playing the role of ‘Jon’ in 2014 was one of my most honored achievements. To now have the opportunity to make my film directorial debut, in collaboration with the Larson Family and this incredible creative team, and to adapt a work I love so deeply, is a humbling privilege. Together, we aim to honor Jonathan’s legacy and continue to position his work to inspire the next generation of storytellers.”
“Seeing Rent for the first time, as a teenager in 1996, was one of the transformative experiences of my life,” Levenson added. “To have the opportunity, 22 years later, to work with Lin and the team at Imagine to adapt Tick, Tick…Boom! and tell Jonathan Larson’s remarkable story is a profound honor.”
The project, it seems, has been in the works for some time. Miranda revealed on social media that a trip with Levenson to the Library of Congress in October was so they could “research” in “the Larson archives.”
Howard, who recently helmed Solo: A Star Wars Story, shared a photo of himself with Miranda. “Exciting to feel the energy @Lin_Miranda is already bringing to #TickTickBoom,” he tweeted.
Since Hamilton, Miranda has gone on to work on music for Disney’s Moana and Lucasfilm’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens. He’s also graced the small and big screens with roles on Curb Your Enthusiasm, How I Met Your Mother, and The Odd Life of Timothy Green.
Miranda worked with Ben Platt, the star of Levenson’s Dear Evan Hansen, on the “Found/Tonight” mash-up performed for the March for Our Lives.
“Our family is honored that Lin-Manuel Miranda will launch his directorial career interpreting Jonathan’s most personal work,” an official statement from the Larson family reads. “Lin-Manuel and Steven both have a deep understanding of the piece, and we are so excited to see their vision realized. We hope that Jonathan’s story will resonate with a whole new generation of artists.”
Deadline was the first to report the news.