Entertainment

Lin-Manuel Miranda had little but good advice for ‘In the Heights’ star Anthony Ramos


Anthony Ramos spoke briefly with Lin-Manuel Miranda before succeeding him as the star of “In the Heights,” and this week, he transported “Tonight Show” viewers to the room where it happened.

Appearing on Monday’s episode of the late-night program, Ramos said people often ask him what advice he received from Miranda before following in his footsteps as Usnavi de la Vega, the charismatic protagonist of “In the Heights.” In addition to penning the music and lyrics for the Tony-winning production, Miranda also originated the role of Usnavi on Broadway.

“He literally said nothing,” Ramos quipped, drawing laughter from the show’s first full audience since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. “He was just like, ‘Yo, do your thing, papa,’ like, ‘Yo, get after it. Just tell the truth.’”

Ramos stars as Usnavi in director Jon M. Chu’s long-delayed and highly anticipated film adaptation of “In the Heights,” which centers on a pure-hearted bodega owner and his vibrant community living in the prominently Dominican neighborhood of Washington Heights in New York City.

While shooting the movie musical, co-produced by Miranda, Ramos said the “Hamilton” composer and playwright visited the set “all the time.” Miranda also makes a cameo in the film as a piragua (shaved ice) vendor, or piragüero.

“It was a special experience, ’cause as a kid growing up, I never had a movie like this to watch,” Ramos told Fallon. “And then we’re seeing this Latino explosion on the screen like this.”

During production, Ramos said, one of his favorite numbers to film was “Carnaval del Barrio,” which involved dancing and waving the flags of Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Cuba and others through the streets of New York City.

“We’re singing these songs about being proud of where you’re from or where your ancestors are from, and I had this moment on set,” said Ramos, who is of Puerto Rican descent. “I was like, ‘I hope, Grandma, I hope you’re looking down.’”

Ramos, who landed his big break among the original Broadway cast of Miranda’s “Hamilton,” also teased his sophomore studio album, “Love and Lies,” which includes the single “Échale” and debuts June 25.

“The second album is just like riding the Nitro at Six Flags,” he said. “We just on a never-ending roller coaster of 12 bangers. … We have reggaeton vibes, we got the Caribbean vibes … we got R&B vibes. … There’s something for everybody on this album, so go get it.”

“In the Heights” was originally set to open in June 2020 before theaters across the country shut down to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus.

A year later, Chu’s “In the Heights” — also starring Melissa Barrera, Corey Hawkins, Leslie Grace and others — premieres in theaters Friday. Watch Ramos and Fallon’s full conversation here.




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