Lin-Manuel Miranda On Growing Up In NYC, ‘Hamilton’ And Innermost Thoughts

Lin-Manuel Miranda kept it all the way real in his latest interview with GQ. The superstar actor, playwright and musician just finished his run as Alexander Hamilton in his legendary musical, Hamilton, this past July. Now, he’s working on a remake of Mary Poppins in London with Emily Blunt, and his musical In The Heights is set to become a feature film.

Aside from being one of the most recognizable and prolific figures in American theater, Miranda is a true New Yorker who finds his solace around 168th Street. He also tackles many of his innermost thoughts head-on and is “acutely aware” of the showbiz world he chose to be a part of. Check out some of our favorite blurbs from his interview below.

READ: 7 Takeaways We Gathered From Watching Lin-Manuel’s ‘Hamilton’

On separating his role in Hamilton from his real life:
“I ?nd that, for me, the work is a safe place to put all the stuff you don’t want to put in your real life. I don’t want to be a crazy, manic a**hole. I don’t want to have an affair. I don’t want to have a f**king gun?ght. But! There’s a part of your brain that wants to experience everything, and so work’s a safe place to explore it all. Both in the writing and in the performing. I get to write about an affair. I get to have the guilt and the feeling of that without having to f**k my life up. [laughs]Art is the place to safely explore all those other sides of you, because the side you want to bring home is the side that wants to be a good father and be a good husband and be a good son. In art we can be f**king nuts. So I didn’t have any depression left to play outside of the theater.I was like a dry sponge at the end.”

On the inspiration behind the Hamilton mixtape:
“I’m a fan of every single person who’s working on it. And that’s from the newer kids like Chance the Rapper to Busta Rhymes, who was the first rapper I thought of for this project when I was still reading chapter 4 of the Chernow book. I came upon the character Hercules Mulligan, and I said, “That’s Busta Rhymes!” So to have him participate in the mixtape is f**king insane! The best way to describe the mixtape is that I drew on all my heroes to write Hamilton, and the mixtape is me taking Hamilton to all my heroes and saying, “What does this inspire you to make?” It’s my heroes in the hip-hop sphere, and favorite songwriters of mine, like Regina Spektor, Ben Folds, Ingrid Michaelson. It’s all over the map.”

On feeling most comfortable being in New York:
“My wife and I left town for a week and a half on vacation…and I was tearfully glad to see the George Washington Bridge again. I relax more in my neighborhood because I know where all the stuff is. I feel comfortable with the noise and seeing other Latinos around me, and there’s an ease I feel from 168th Street to the end of the island that I don’t feel anywhere else on earth.”

On his thoughts regarding death, and how he makes art from his thoughts:
“I mean, it’s a mix of growing up and going to therapy and realizing you’re not alone. After I broke up with my high school girlfriend, I spent the summer in therapy. There was no stigma in that. My mom is a psychologist. My parents met at NYU grad school for psychology. So I only regret that I waited so long to do it, you know? [laughs] I should have done it at 14, not at 19. And the best thing about going to see a psychologist is you say, “I’ve never told anyone this,” and you unload your deepest, darkest thought in your head, and they go, “Okay.” And you go, “But you don’t think I’m the worst person in the world or I’m the best person in the world or like a crazy person?” And they go, “No, that’s really normal. A lot of people feel like that.” And, you know, my preoccupation with death was one of those things. You work out the stuff you’ve built up in your head, and you talk it out until you can lay it on a table and look at it and go, “Well, that’s f**king crazy.” And that’s true, but I don’t have to sit with it all the time. It doesn’t have to rule me.”

READ: An Ode To Lin-Manuel Miranda, Broadway’s Resident Rap Genius

On his upcoming role as lamplighter Jack in Mary Poppins:
“Mary Poppins is to be directed by Rob Marshall, the guy who knows how to direct modern musicals. This was a formula that was put in a bottle and thrown in the sea. Hollywood forgot how to do it for a really long time. What I’m excited about in London is surrendering to a different artistic world and seeing what that brings out when I’m singing, dancing, and being an actor for hire. What will that free up in the rest of my brain? I have ideas for what I think I can write next, but that may totally change once I’m out there. I never really lived in another country for this long. I didn’t do it in school. I was too busy making sh**. So I’m, you know, it’s my year abroad.”

Read the entire interview here.