SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Lin-Manuel Miranda jokingly compared himself to a hard-to-catch Pokemon as fans pursued him with cellphones on Wednesday during a visit to his parents’ native Puerto Rico shortly after the end of his run on the Broadway hit “Hamilton.”
Cheers broke out as Miranda promised to bring the show that won 11 Tony Awards to the U.S. territory, adding that he would like to turn it into a movie in the near future.
“I will be your Hamilton!” he said with a wide smile as he arrived in the north coastal town of Vega Alta, where he spent his childhood summers selling ice cream, eating avocados and enlisting neighbors to star in his skits.
Miranda credited his Puerto Rico roots for making him a writer, one whose most recent Broadway production earned a Pulitzer Prize for drama, a Grammy and the Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama Inspired by American History.
“When you’re born in the United States but your parents are from here, you always live a double life,” he said in Spanish. “And that’s a good way to be a writer. You’re always observing the differences between Puerto Rico and New York.”
As an artist, Miranda said it is also his responsibility to create empathy. He recently spoke out about Puerto Rico’s dire economic crisis, calling it a “life or death issue” for his family.
He said he was allergic to politics, but praised a rescue package that U.S. President Barack Obama recently signed into law to help the U.S. territory emerge from a decade-long economic crisis. Miranda also urged Puerto Ricans to analyze what they want for the island’s future.
“We have to keep having that conversation. We have to figure out who we are,” he said, adding that he supports granting people living in Puerto Rico the right to vote for U.S. president because they are U.S. citizens.
After meeting with the press, Miranda went on a tour of cherished childhood spots, including the home of Margot Rodriguez, who was his grandfather’s neighbor.
In an interview with The Associated Press, the 83-year-old homemaker recalled how Miranda would thrust a broom handle into her hands and make her pretend to play the guitar while he sang. He also enlisted her as an actress, urging her to scream as he threw a makeshift puppet from a tree pretending it was he who had fallen.
“He would come up with the craziest things,” she recalled with a laugh. “I love that boy.”
Miranda was scheduled to receive several honors in Puerto Rico, including a star on the island’s Walk of Fame. Upon returning to the U.S. mainland, Miranda said he plans to become involved in whatever projects are “too cool to say ‘no’ to.” One fantasy is to write a song for Star Wars, he said.
Miranda will appear next in Disney’s sequel to “Mary Poppins,” and he wrote the music for the upcoming animated film “Moana” that features a Polynesian princess. He said he made Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson sing for the film and learned some diet tips from the chiseled star, including not sitting down to eat.
“That was my little calorie secret from ‘The Rock,'” Miranda said with a laugh.
He said he loves the film in part because it’s about a girl who learns that her ancestors are voyagers who sailed from island to island without maps or compasses.
“You had to memorize where you were from to know where you were going,” he said. “This is the best metaphor in the world for Puerto Ricans.”
Danica Coto on Twitter: www.twitter.com/danicacoto