Lights up on Washington Heights… that’s right, the film adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hit musical In The Heights is releasing on home entertainment today (27th September).
The feel-good film of the summer tells the story of a corner of Washington Heights, a community filled with dreamers including bodega owner Usnavi (Anthony Ramos) who sets his sights on a better life.
We spoke to actors Olga Merediz (Abuela Claudia), Jimmy Smits (Kevin Rosario) and Gregory Diaz IV (Sonny) all about the movie.
You can watch our full interview with the trio here:
Zavvi: Congratulations on the movie. It’s taken a while to reach the screen, but it feels rather timely, with director Jon M. Chu describing it as a “vaccine for the soul”.
Gregory: Absolutely! I’ve not heard that expression before but it’s perfect for it. We are rolling out of the pandemic, and I think the themes of the film like unity and community, you know we’re coming back together and the film is a marching front-runner for that idea.
Zavvi: And for you Olga, you are reprising your role which you originated on the stage. When they approached you, were you hesitant to be a part of the movie or was it an immediate ‘yes’?
Jimmy: Haha she was hesistant!
Olga: I said ‘my people will call your people’! Haha no! When I got the phone call it was Lin [Manuel Miranda, writer] and I was like, ‘oh my god, is it good news or bad news’.
I was ecstatic because it rarely happens that the theatre actor gets to do the role in the movie, so it really was just a dream come true to have this journey with this beloved matriarch, and then to open it up with the film.
Zavvi: And Jimmy, what was your reaction when they called you about playing Kevin Rosario?
Jimmy: I was jazzed as I was a fan. I remember seeing Olga perform it off-Broadway and on Broadway, and now that performance is amplified with all of those visuals is preserved.
I was just happy to be able to give a little contribution, and checking off a box on my artistic bucket list. In those dramatic scenes, I felt that there was a resonance that I could contribute to give it a little punch.
Zavvi: The representation on screen is wonderful, and it’s all positive – there’s no villains here, these people feel real and it’s all about this sense of community.
Olga: It’s extremely important and it’s time. Every decade there’s a movie, there’s an artist, there’s a song that represents us, and it’s just a blip and it never happens.
But I feel like this movie will be a crossover movie, it’s very positive, and the music will go right through to your heart.
It’s a joy to see us represented in this way, and also people from all over the world will identify with these characters, no matter where you are from because they are real, and the themes of home, community and fulfilling your dreams are universal.
Jimmy: I think that all of the things Olga said are true, and with it being a musical, there’s joy in that.
Also coming out of the pandemic, people are ready to feel all that, and thinking about the social issues we have had to grapple with – hopefully that will make it resonate even more.
In The Heights is out on 4K, Blu-ray and DVD from 27th September.