Even though Javier Muñoz was Lin Manuel Miranda's alternate in Miranda's first Broadway musical, In the Heights, he still had to audition for Hamilton. Twice. Flash forward to Muñoz's first performance as Alexander Hamilton in the Broadway production, which President Obama attended. "No pressure!" he told host Ophira Eisenberg. "I was surprised that I just wasn't nervous. I was so excited to do it. It was one of the three times Lin got to see the show so that was the most important thing to me...I believe he was a row or two in front of the President."
Muñoz, who was originally Miranda's understudy, has officially taken over the part. Naturally, the two brought something different to his portrayal of the Founding Father. When asked what quality makes his performance unique, Muñoz noted that he thinks "it's just a matter of one's own experience. I just bring who I am to it and combine it with what I know it's meant to be. Scene by scene, lyric by lyric."
When Muñoz got his start, there weren't many great roles for Latinos. "It was like Drug Dealer #2, Thug #5," he recounted. Since then, the casting climate has made some progress. "I've seen casting directors expand and call me in for things that I would have never been called in for. And that's so promising. It's so wonderful to be in the room and be one of a handful of actors of color and the character is perhaps not that." He continued, "And there are also situations where it's like, 'Wow, nothing's changed.' So there's still more work to do."
Muñoz stuck around to help lead an Ask Me Another challenge about a president's best friend--their pet. In this game, contestants identify U.S. Presidents based on descriptions from the perspective of their actual pets.
On whose shoes are harder to fill, Alexander Hamilton's or Lin Manuel Miranda's
I'm gonna say Lin's...'Cause I think I have smaller feet.
On first hearing about Hamilton
[Lin Manuel Miranda] left me a voicemail...it was at least a minute, or two-minute long voicemail that made absolutely no sense to be. And then I walked into the room and heard the music and it all fell into place.
On overcoming personal hardships
It's certainly at times been overwhelming, but I think overall the greatest thing is just seeing and learning and accepting what's actually important. And not getting distracted by the things that really ultimately will not matter.