By now, you might have heard the truly awesome news that In The Heights, the Tony Award-sweeping musical that propelled its creator Lin-Manuel Miranda to instant success, is headed for the multiplex. Universal Pictures picked up the rights to the Broadway show just last week, and we're giddy at the idea of seeing our favorite Washington Heights homeboy and his lotto-winning abuelita on the big screen.
Though Lin-Manuel is confirmed to produce and rumored to star in the film, we regrettably have to point out that a major studio like Universal might not want a musical theater savant (albeit one who can perform the hell out of a rapped monologue) to carry their movie. Another possible strike against him: Nowhere in the studio's press release does it say that this film "based on" In The Heights will definitely be a musical. (A story about Dominicans in Washington Heights without singing and dancing? That's nuts!)
So, if Lin-Manuel Miranda doesn't play Usnavi on the big screen, who will? Here, our totally unfounded speculation over the contenders:
Currently co-starring in the cop flick Pride & Glory, Rick's always been one of our favorite just-under the radar actors, creating memorable performances in Old School (Spanish!), Illegal Tender and Coach Carter. Plus, the 29-year-old actor did a whole lot of on-screen bootyshaking with Bow Wow in the roller skating musical teen dance battle move, Roll Bounce (see here for the proof). Right now, he's definitely our front-runner.
At 41, Johnny Legz is way older than Lin-Manuel. But depending on how loosely Universal plans to adapt the Broadway show, it could work. John’s got the advantage (even over Lin-Manuel) in virtually every other department, from his rock solid film career and uptown NYC roots to his ability to sing, rap and dance without looking like a total doofus.
So what if he’s virtually inescapable these days and already starred on Broadway? We are so against this choice, for reasons far too numerous to explain here…but if you need one, start with his finely chiseled abs.
A Nuyo-Dominican at heart, Victor’s got the youth, the good looks and the acting chops to pull off Usnavi, especially in those tender scenes with his grandmother. One big drawback: For some reason, we have a feeling he’s tone deaf. No idea why.
Universal might be tempted to put a musician in the role and hope for the best, in which case they might want to go with urban bachatero Toby Love. Like Victor, he fits the New York-bred dominicano criteria, and no doubt can sing his booty off. But can he act? At all? Our guess is no.
Benicio del Toro/Javier Bardem/Gael García Bernal:
Not a chance.
Any other suggestions for who should replace the irreplaceable Lin-Manuel Miranda in the movie version of In The Heights? Do share.