By Maureen Lee Lenker
July 24, 2020 at 06:11 PM EDT

The world is wide enough for many opinions on Hamilton.

When the Pulitzer-Prize winning musical premiered on Disney+ earlier this month, it invited a host of new criticism, particularly coming under more vocal scrutiny for its perceived valorization of slave-owning Founding Fathers. It also sparked a slew of theories about the meaning of Eliza's (Phillipa Soo) final gasp and a renewal of an already flourishing meme culture that had sprung up around the show when it first hit Broadway in 2015.

Leslie Odom Jr., who earned a Tony for his portrayal of Hamilton foil and foe Aaron Burr, says he welcomes the fresh wave of critical engagement. "Whenever I put out something that I'm creating, I am desperate for the other half of the conversation," he tells EW. "The fact that Hamilton came out on Disney+ four years later, and it wasn't ignored; criticism legitimizes your work. The fact that somebody has taken time to watch it and they have a thoughtful opinion about it is everything."

Theo Wargo/Getty Images

Odom says he pays keen attention to the discourse and is thrilled that people are discussing the show in such broad and deep terms. "I'm happy something that we made all those years ago is still a part of the conversation," he reflects. "I've seen the theories on Eliza's gasp, and I've seen the theories of what people think about the fact that we're tearing statues down in the street and there's some of us that are playing these men and these women on stage. I'm interested in all of it; I'm learning from all of it, and there's a real value in it for me."

Expanding on the value of the Hamilton conversation in relation to bigger picture ideas, he concludes, "All that's required of us right now to meet this moment is the willingness to be honest with one another. It's really about telling the truth right now."

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