Rather than being a traditional adaptation of the musical for the big screen, such as 悲惨世界 (2012), West Side Story (1961), or 猫 (2019), this is instead a filmed version of the stage show with the original Broadway cast performing the roles. The recording was filmed in June of 2016, just before several key members of the original cast, including 林-曼努尔·米兰达, ended their run in the show.
Filmed over the course of three days in June 2016. It started by filming a live Sunday matinee performance with cameras in the audience, after which the cast and crew spent the rest of the day and evening filming close-ups, dolly shots and crane shots. Filming continued all day Monday (normally the cast's day off) with more close-ups and Steadicam footage. More filming took place on Tuesday morning, before shooting another live performance on Tuesday evening, with cameras again in the audience but in different positions. 林-曼努尔·米兰达 said, "it was basically a three-day film shoot with the best-rehearsed cast in the history of the movies, 'cause we'd all been doing the show for a year at this point."
罗恩·切尔诺夫, who wrote the Hamilton biography that inspired Lin-Manuel Miranda in the first place, was initially skeptical about making a musical from Hamilton's life, but changed his mind after his first meeting with Miranda, who stressed that he wanted Hamilton to be taken seriously by historians and asked Chernow to help him develop the script. Chernow said his skepticism melted the moment he heard Miranda's first song, and was completely on board afterwards. He's supposedly seen the show dozens of times, always as a paying customer.
In his 2016 book "Hamilton: The Revolution," Lin-Manuel Miranda writes that he had certain scenes from the Harry Potter books in mind when he composed some moments in Hamilton. Regarding the show's opening song, "Alexander Hamilton," Miranda refers to the point when the tempo doubles as a Harry Potter moment: "We double the tempo here because Hamilton's found his way out: He's going to double down on his education, and make himself undeniable. The image in my head is of Harry Potter finding out he's a wizard. Everything suddenly makes sense." Miranda also characterizes the song "Aaron Burr, Sir" as "basically Harry Potter meeting Draco Malfoy before meeting his real friends. Just Hamilton's luck to meet his temperamental opposite."
Eliza sings, "Oh--can I show you what I'm proudest of? / I establish the first private orphanage in New York City. / I help to raise hundreds of children; I get to see them growing up. / In their eyes I see you, Alexander / I see you every time." In 1806, a group of prominent female philanthropists who were members of New York City's Society for the Relief of Poor Widows with Small Children (including Isabella Graham, Graham's daughter Joanna Bethune, and their friend Elizabeth "Eliza" Schuyler Hamilton) founded The Orphan Asylum Society in the City of New York--the first private orphanage in New York City. The society housed its first six orphans in a rented frame house on what is now Barrow Street in Greenwich Village, but the orphanage quickly expanded to accommodate many more children in a building on Bank Street. In 1821, Eliza was named "First Directress" (president) of the orphanage, a position she held until 1848. The orphanage survives into the present day as Graham Windham, a social service agency for New York-area children and families.
In a January 2015 interview with New York Magazine, 林-曼努尔·米兰达 says that the TV series 白宫风云 (1999) was a "huge" influence on Hamilton: "Like Hamilton, it pulls back the curtain on how decision-making happens at the highest level, or at least how you hope it would be. The amount of information 艾伦·索金 packs into a scene gave me this courage to trust the audience to keep up." Several song lyrics in Hamilton are quotations or paraphrases of West Wing scenes. In the song "The Schuyler Sisters," Angelica sings, "Eliza, I'm looking for a mind at work!," a reference to Sam Seaborn telling Ainsley Hayes, " before I look for anything, I look for a mind at work." In "That Would Be Enough," Eilza sings, "So long as you come home at the end of the day. That would be enough," a reference to President Bartlet telling his daughter Ellie, "The only thing you ever had to do to make me happy was come home at the end of the day." When Miranda took his curtain call after his final Broadway performance as Hamilton, the West Wing theme played for his bow.
At the time the show was filmed, 乔纳森·格罗夫 had already left the role of King George, replaced by 罗伊·奥麦利. He returned especially for this filming. He also provides, in character, the voice of the pre-show announcer at the beginning of the film, welcoming the audience to the show. O'Malley and 布莱恩·达西, who had played King George in the original off-Broadway cast and was the only cast member not to join the rest of the cast on Broadway, are given special thanks in the credits.
In his 2016 book "Hamilton: The Revolution," Lin-Manuel Miranda says that the inspiration for the "Hamilton" song "You'll Be Back" came from his friendship with Hugh Laurie, which in turn came from his time as an actor on "House": "I was having a drink with Hugh Laurie, with whom I'd worked on his series House, and I told him I wanted to write a big breakup letter from King George to the colonies. Without blinking, he improved at me, 'Awwww, you'll be back,' wagging his finger. I laughed and filed it away. Thanks, Hugh Laurie. "
This performance of the original Broadway cast of Hamilton was filmed two weeks before the originals departed the show. It was originally filmed to be spliced into the documentary Hamilton's America (2016).
The cost of filming the show in June 2016 for later exhibition as an independent movie was financed by its three main producers for less than $10 million. In February 2020, Disney paid $75 million for the worldwide rights to release it, believed to be the largest price ever paid for a single film acquisition. Other studios that expressed interest in the film rights included Warner Bros. Pictures, 20th Century Fox (which would eventually be acquired by Disney) and Netflix.
Originally scheduled for a theatrical release on October 21, 2021, it was moved up to a Disney+ exclusive release on July 3, 2020, in light of the consequences of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic on the film industry and the performing arts, which shut down not only the musical's Broadway production, but also its London West End and touring productions. This change was also made to release the film in time for the Fourth of July holiday and celebration of the 244th anniversary of U.S. independence.
Several roles are doubled between Acts One and Two: Lafayette / Thomas Jefferson, John Laurens / Philip Hamilton, Peggy Schuyler / Maria Reynolds, Hercules Mulligan / James Madison, Philip Schuyler / James Reynolds. When Lin-Manuel Miranda was asked on Twitter why Peggy Schuyler joined her sisters saying "Me, I loved him," in the opening number, he said the actress was meant to represent both Peggy and Maria in that moment, and that so too did the other doubled actors, congratulating listeners who caught the double meaning in such lines as "We fought with him", which could refer to Jefferson and Madison, who opposed Hamilton politically, or Lafayette and Mulligan, who fought alongside him in the war; as well as "Me, I died for him", which is sung by the actor playing Phillip Hamilton and John Laurens, both of whom were close to Hamilton and died. Named roles other than the principals are played by chorus members, who often return as soldiers, townspeople, courtiers, and/or slaves, often with ironies such as the slave identified as Sally Hemings returning as a woman who flirts with Philip.
Hamilton's line "How could I do this?" in "Say No to This" was originally "How could you do this?", until Miranda realized that his recognizing his own guilt was the only way he could retain any sympathy.
In the song "One Last Time," many of the lyrics are lines taken verbatim from George Washington's "Farewell Address" (1796), in which he announced his intention to not seek reelection. As stated in the song, Alexander Hamilton did indeed ghostwrite this speech. In the same song, Washington also sings, "Like the scripture says: / 'Everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree / And no one shall make them afraid.' / They'll be safe in the nation we've made / I wanna sit under my own vine and fig tree / A moment alone in the shade / At home in this nation we've made / One last time." While this is not from the "Farewell Address," it is a reference to a Bible verse from the Book of Micah (4:4) that Washington frequently quoted in his letters and speeches. One of the best-known instances of Washington using this passage in his writings was in his August 21, 1790, "Letter to the Hebrew Congregation at Newport," in which he assured the Jewish community of Rhode Island that the U.S. was not founded as a Christian nation and they would not be considered second-class citizens of the new nation just because they were not Christians: "happily, the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support....May the children of the stock of Abraham who dwell in this land continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants-while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree and there shall be none to make him afraid."
In real life, the Schuyler family had brothers and Angelica was already married when she first met Alexander Hamilton. Lin-Manuel Miranda admitted he changed the details for dramatic effect (that they have no brothers and Angelica is still single, but under pressure to marry into a rich family) to create tension between Hamilton, Eliza and Angelica. However, Hamilton and Angelica did have a very close relationship and wrote many letters to each other, like illustrated in the show.
This is the second live taping of a Broadway musical Disney has released, following Disney's Newsies: The Broadway Musical (2017), which was also filmed with members of both the Broadway and touring casts.
In his 2016 book "Hamilton: The Revolution," 林-曼努尔·米兰达 writes that the character of King George III in his musical Hamilton was heavily influenced by the portrayal of George III in the 2008 HBO miniseries 约翰•亚当斯 (2008), starring 保罗·吉亚玛提 as Adams and 汤姆·霍兰德 as the king. Miranda says that he especially had in mind the scene in which Adams meets the king when he wrote the lyrics for King George's third song, "I Know Him": "John Adams!? / I know him / That can't be / That's that little guy who spoke to me / All those years ago / What was it, eighty-five?" Regarding these lyrics, Miranda writes, "I'm just taking it as a given that everyone watched the John Adams miniseries on HBO. The scene between Adams and King George in that film is my favorite scene in the whole series."
Before deciding on Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda considered writing a musical about Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War, based on Doris Kearns Goodwin's "Team of Rivals." However, he decided against it after 史蒂文·斯皮尔伯格's 林肯 (2012) went into production first.
When Lin-Manuel Miranda was planning on having Benjamin Franklin in the show, he wrote lyrics to a song for his scene, but never any music as he removed Franklin from the script early in the writing process. He thought the lyrics sounded like a song by The Decemberists, so he sent the lyrics over to them and said if they were interested, they could put music to them. The Decemberists wrote music to the lyrics and sent them to Miranda, who loved the song. Together, they collaborated on the lyrics and music for the bridge and released the song, which can now be downloaded on iTunes and Amazon.
The repeated line in Your Obedient Servant "I have the honor to be/your obedient servant/A. Ham/A.Burr" has a historical connection to the real lives of Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. In the series of letters that led up to the pair dueling each other, both ended their letters with "I have the honor to be your obedient servant" followed by their signatures.
It took Lin-Manuel Miranda a year to write "My Shot." He describes this song as the moment that "Hamilton comes into the room and blows everyone away with the strength of his oratory, so every couplet has to be amazing."
In a January 2015 interview with New York Magazine, Lin-Manuel Miranda outlined many of the prior stage musicals that were influences on Hamilton. Among the other musicals that he says were on his mind while writing this one are: Evita and Jesus Christ Superstar ("Structurally, in terms of the shape of the musical, you can see their influence, in that we have a killer telling his story, like Che in Evita and Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar."); The Last Five Years (from which the lyrics and music for one line of the song "Say No to This" are directly lifted); In the Heights (Miranda's biggest hit before Hamilton and the show he calls his "grad school"); Bring it On: The Musical (another musical that Miranda and Alex Lacamoire worked on together, from which he learned "how hip-hoppy tracks work with a live band, when you want the sound to sound like something that was created in the studio but you want it to play live"); Les Misérables ("because it is an epic revolutionary score and it's the first Broadway show I ever saw. I learned a lot from Les Miz about compression and returning to themes"). Additional musicals referenced in Hamilton include South Pacific (Burr sings, "you've got to be carefully taught," a song from that Rogers & Hammerstein musical); The Pirates of Penzance (George Washington brags that he is "the model of a modern major general," a line from one of Gilbert & Sullivan's best-known shows); and 1776 (in the song "The Adams Administration," the line "Sit down, John, you fat motherf***** refers to the song "Sit Down, John"). In a December 2015 interview with Wesleyan College's alumni magazine, Miranda acknowledged the debt that the song "The Room Where it Happens" owes to "Somewhere in a Tree" from the Stephen Sondheim / John Weidman musical Pacific Overtures: both are songs about important historical events told from the points of view of people who were outside of the spaces where those events occurred.
Several cast members have connections to Disney films. 林-曼努尔·米兰达 (Alexander Hamilton) wrote the songs for 莫阿娜 (2016) and starred as Jack the Lamplighter in Mary Poppins Returns (2018). 乔纳森·格罗夫 (King George III) was the voice of Kristoff in the 冰雪奇缘 (2013) franchise. 克里斯·杰克逊 (George Washington) was the singing voice of Chief Tui in 莫阿娜 (2016) and played Simba in the Broadway production of The Lion King. 戴维德·迪格斯 is planned to voice Sebastian in 小美人鱼 and will be the voice of Paul in the Pixar movie 心灵奇旅 (2020).
Hamilton is filled with quotations of, paraphrases from, and references to many hip-hop, rap, and R&B songs. The rights page in the show's Playbill says "The score of Hamilton contains references to the following classics:" "Going Back to Cali," written by Christopher Wallace (The Notorious B.I.G.), Osten Harvey, Jr. (Easy Mo Bee) and Roger Troutman [when Hamilton spells out his name in "My Shot"]; "Juicy (It's All Good)," written by Christopher Wallace (The Notorious B.I.G.), Jean-Claude Olivier, Sean Combs and James Mtume ["And if you don't know, now you know."]; "Party Up (Up in Here)," written by Earl Simmons (DMX) and Kasseem Dean (Swizz Beats) ["Meet 'em inside, meet 'em inside, meet 'em inside"]; "Shook Ones Pt. II," written by Kejuan Waliek Muchita (Havoc) and Albert Johnson (Prodigy) ["Only nineteen but my mind is older"]; "Ten Crack Commandments," written by Christopher E. Martin (DJ Premier) and Khary Kimani Turner ["Ten Duel Commandments"]; "The Message," written by Melvin Glover, Sylvia Robinson, Clifton Nathaniel Chase and Edward G. Fletcher ["Ah ha ha ha / Such a blunder / Sometimes it makes me wonder / why I even bring the thunder." ] Other hip-hop references not specifically enumerated in the Playbill include: Jay Z and Alicia Keys's "Empire State of Mind" [the section of "Alexander Hamilton" in which Hamilton gets to New York]; "Scenario" (A Tribe Called Quest): "Boom! - from the cannon" [the part of "Right Hand Man" when the company and Washington sing "Boom! Goes the cannon"]; Eminem's "Lose Yourself" [in "Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down)," Hamilton sings, "we have one shot to live another day" in reference to Eminen's "You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow." The Cabinet Battles are also patterned after the rap battles in Eminem's movie 8 Mile].
Lin Manuel-Miranda wanted to add a scene to show the falling out between Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, who co-wrote (with John Jay) The Federalist Papers together defending the U.S. Constitution. He couldn't find the right place for the scene and decided instead to show the falling out in the introduction to Thomas Jefferson, where Madison mentions the problems Hamilton has been causing while Jefferson was in France.
Although a live taping of the stage production, Disney has released films of other Broadway shows that they did not originally create. These include the theatrical film adaptations of 贝隆夫人 (1996) (produced through the now-defunct Hollywood Pictures label) and 魔法黑森林 (2014), and the made-for-TV adaptations of 安妮 (1999) and 豌豆公主 (2005).
Lin-Manuel Miranda stated that early drafts of the script had a scene featuring John Adams and Benjamin Franklin, as he thought it important they be included somewhere in the show due to their importance as founding fathers. He decided to cut the scene when he realized going over the ocean twice began pulling focus away from both Hamilton and the rise of the United States (the scene was to take place in France, where Adams and Franklin were living at the time). In the end, both characters were cut from the final draft, as Miranda said the show was about Hamilton, not the founding fathers, and Hamilton's interactions with Adams and Franklin were relatively limited. He also thought going to England only for the King George III segments worked perfectly as comic relief.
In his 2016 coffee table book and libretto "Hamilton: The Revolution," Lin-Manuel Miranda writes that he took the lyrics "the world turned upside down" from the title of the real drinking song that the Redcoats sang at Yorktown: "Per Chernow, this was the name of the tune the British sang as they retreated. I sought out the actual song and it's . . . well, it's a drinking song. It's sprightly and lively and fun to sing with a pint in your hand, but didn't serve me musically. So I wrote my own melody for it. But God, what a great sentiment for the end of the war and the birth of this moment."
At the end of the show's final number, "Who Lives, Who Dies, Who tells your Story", Eliza (played by Phillipa Soo) gives a heart-pounding gasp to the audience, as if in shock or horror. Many theories abound as to why, including that it breaks the so-called fourth wall & Eliza is seeing the audience--& therefore happily shocked her husband's story has been told-- to the belief that her gasp represents Eliza dying & moving on to heaven, or seeing the face of God. A third theory states that when Hamilton walks out & brings Eliza to the front of the stage, the character is actually writer/star Lin-Manuel Miranda appearing as himself & showing Eliza the play about her husband he has created. Miranda has since said this is not case, but it was "a lovely notion."
Phillipa Soo had this to say on the subject: "People are like, 'Is it Eliza going into heaven? Is she seeing Alexander? Is she seeing God? What is it?' And it's kind of all of those things. Sometimes, it's literally, I look out and I see the audience, and that's what it is, but I think, that idea of 'transcendence' is present in all of that,"
In the show, Hamilton's son dies before Hamilton endorses Jefferson over Burr for the 1800 election. In real life Hamilton's son is killed in the duel in November 1801, well after Jefferson had assumed the office of the Presidency