This week, Modern Family star Sofia Vergara told TV Guide she’s close to landing the role of beauty salon owner Daniela in the movie version of the Tony-winning Broadway musical, In the Heights, which begins shooting this summer. That got us thinking about our dream casting choices. Check them out:
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Lin-Manuel Miranda (Usnavi)
As the dynamic, high strung (and lets be honest: loud!) bodega owner Usnavi in In the Heights, Lin Manuel Miranda won critical raves and a Tony nomination for Best Actor in a Musical. But the people that Lin really won over were the fans — night after night for hundreds of performances, the Puerto Rican star brought packed houses to their feet using his unique charm, impeccable comedic timing, larger-than-life personality and his amazing rap skills. We can't picture anyone else in the role, and we hope we wont have to!
Kat DeLuna (Vanessa)
Don't get us wrong: Karen Olivo, the actress who played Vanessa in the Broadway musical (and later went on to win a Tony for West Side Story) is a terrific actress with an incredible voice, and we know she'd make a great Vanessa on film. But at the same time we think there's something exciting about a new star taking a stab at the role of Usnavi's (Lin-Manuel Miranda) love interest. Vanessa sings some of the show's biggest songs, including the fan favorite, 96,000 and It Wont Be Long Now, so we knew we needed to find a star who had a big voice. Soprano Kat DeLuna, who's actually a New York native from the Bronx and has a unique five-octave range, gets our vote for the role of the dreamer, Vanessa.
Selena Gomez (Nina Rosario)
For the role of the highly intelligent Nina, the first girl in her family to go to college (Stanford University) — who's also a hero to everyone in her barrio — we like Selena Gomez. Selena is a talented singer who's wonderfully articulate, she's at the right age to be playing a college student, and while she's wise beyond her years, she's also someone who considers herself to be young at heart (like Nina). Bonus Points: Lin-Manuel Miranda agrees with us that Selena would be an excellent choice for the role!
Prince Royce (Benny)
For the role of the rebellious Benny, a guy with plenty of swagger and street smarts who loves Nina and dreams of opening his own taxicab business ("Benny's Car Service"), we like Dominican singer, Prince Royce. This Latino prince is a brilliant bachatero who has both the swagger and the vocal chops necessary to nail the role of Benny. And, like Kat DeLuna, he's a New York native, which should make it easy for him to play a guy who thinks everything is easier "when you're home!" Bonus Points: Prince Royce's dad in real life was a cab driver. Coincidence? We think not!
Wilson Cruz, (Sonny)
Ever since his phenomenal portrayal of Angel Dumott Schunard, a young drag queen and street percussionist with AIDS in 1998's RENT, we've longed for Wilson Cruz to star in another musical. The beloved "My So Called Life" actor would be a hoot as Sonny, Usnavi's lazy, socially inept (but loveable) cousin, who always puts his foot in his mouth and almost never knows what's going on.
Sofia Vergara (Daniela)
Daniela is the sexy and fun owner of the salon where the neighborhood girls gossip (and she's usually leading the discussion, telling the girls something they don't know). She's always dressed to the nines, with her hair and makeup looking flawless, has a high-pitched squeaky voice, and is known to say outrageous things at the drop of a hat. Hmm, now we're wondering if they wrote this role for Sofia Vergara?
Rita Moreno (Abuela Claudia)
The matriarch of el barrio, Abuela Claudia is like a grandmother to all of the other characters in In the Heights. She's selfless, wise, and full of love. When she dies in the play, Abuela Claudia is remembered as a legend, so we too chose a legend: Rita Moreno — the first and only Hispanic performer to win an Oscar, a Grammy, a Tony and an Emmy.