Who Is Javier Muñoz, The New Replacement For Lin-Manuel Miranda In 'Hamilton'?
If you have a theater-lover in your life, you've no doubt already had this information shouted at you, but Lin-Manuel Miranda has announced his replacement, so it's time to ask the most important question — who is Javier Muñoz, the new title character in Hamilton ? We always knew that despite the record-breaking success of the Tony-winning musical, the show's writer and star would one day have to move on to other things, and Miranda announced on Jun. 16 that he's doing just that, revealing the man who will be succeeding him in the lead role. As you might have guessed by now, that person is Javier Muñoz, a 40-year old actor who's rising up (pun intended, check out the soundtrack if you don't get it) to fill the coveted slot from within the cast itself.
But we'll get to all that in a moment. First, let's get some backstory on Muñoz. After all, if we're expected to bring him home to mom and dad — by which I maen get as obsessed with him as we already are with Lin-Manuel Miranda — then we need to start from the beginning. Tell the Founding Fathers not to wait up for us at the Constitutional Convention, because we're doing a deep dive.
He Has Deep Roots In New York
The now-40-year old actor was born to Puerto Rican parents living in the projects of East New York, in Brooklyn, and received his theater training at New York University's CAP 21 Bachelor of Fine Arts program. He auditioned for a while and did some off-Broadway productions, but his first big break was being cast in Miranda's first Broadway musical, In The Heights.
He Almost Gave Up On Acting
Ironically, it was just as Muñoz had given up on acting and accepted a job as a restaurant manager that he was cast as Nina's brother in Heights, a small role that was unfortunately cut by the time the show entered performances. But Muñoz proved his dedication by sticking with the musical anyway, performing in the ensemble and taking on the grueling and potentially thankless task of being Miranda's understudy for the role of Usnavi.
He's Been Here Before
And that perseverance paid off, because when Miranda left In The Heights in 2009, Muñoz was named as his replacement, performing the lead role on both the Broadway stage and then later, the tour. Sound familiar? It should, because it's a very similar path to the one that Muñoz took to bring him to this moment, taking over the lead role in Hamilton. Up to this point in Hamilton, Muñoz has been Miranda's alternate, which is basically a beefed-up understudy, who has set shows on a weekly basis. He could also pick up other weekday shows, if Miranda had conflicts, but as a rule, Muñoz was/is guaranteed to perform in Miranda's stead once a week, for Sunday matinees. So he's had plenty of practice in the role of Alexander Hamilton.
Lin-Manuel Miranda Trusts Him Like Crazy
In fact, Javier Muñoz — or "Javi", as Miranda calls him — has gone on as Hamilton for some of the most esteemed audience members so far, including Beyonce and Jay Z, and President Obama and his family. Woof. No pressure!
He's Been Preparing For This Moment For A Long Time
But even without all the performance time itself, it turns out that Muñoz is written more deeply into the role of Alexander Hamilton than any of us may have realized. Lin-Manuel Miranda shared that he and Muñoz actually created the role together, so it's a reflection of both of them, and we're just about to get to see the other side of it, when Muñoz takes over on Jul. 11. Exciting stuff!
The Man Is Non-Stop
Another little Hamilton reference for you fans, hope you enjoyed. But the last and maybe most important thing you need to know about Muñoz is that he doesn't let anything stop him. He announced in March 2016 that he'd been diagnosed with cancer — he doesn't say what kind — the previous October, and left the show for around two months to seek treatment. But then after going through surgery and radiation, he came. back. to. the show. Insane. Just the sheer force of willpower to make that happen is amazing, as is the fact that he not only wasn't replaced as an alternate in the interim, but Lin-Manuel Miranda actually covered for him on occasion.
I feel like everything I've listed here really speaks to how respected Muñoz is by this production, and how deeply he and Miranda rely on each other, and it makes me more excited than ever to go on this new adventure with Javier Muñoz in the driver's seat. Now just cross your fingers that we can somehow get tickets!