- Marc Anthony delivers an astonishing acting performance in a short como “In The Heights”.
- The scene lasts only two minutes, but suggests major consequences for an important character.
- Director Jon M. Chu praised Anthony as “just so believable” while playing the character.
- Visit the Insider website for more stories.
Warning: This post contains huge spoilers for “In The Heights.”
When Marc Anthony arrived to film his “In The Heights” como, director Jon M. Chu thought the singer would be more of a diva given his fame. But Chu was pleasantly surprised at how much Anthony put into his short, two-minute scene ̵
“In The Heights,” adapted from a Lin-Manuel Miranda and Quiara Alegría Hudes Broadway musical of the same name, is a story about a community from Washington Heights in New York City. One of the people who lives and works in the neighborhood is teenager Sonny (played by Gregory Diaz IV), who works at his cousin Usnavi (played by Anthony Ramos) bodega.
A brooding Anthony plays Sonny’s alcoholic, unnamed father.
Despite being on screen for just over two minutes and only saying a few lines of dialogue, Anthony delivers a moving performance in a conversation with Usnavi about Sonny’s future. Anthony’s last line in the film suggests that his teenage son, who was brought to New York City from the Dominican Republic as a young child, may have been an undocumented immigrant (this is confirmed several scenes later when Sonny collapses at a demonstration for DREAMers).
While promoting “In The Heights” on Friday, Chu told Insider that Anthony “did not even question” appearing in the film, even though it was not “the biggest scene” in the musical.
“First and foremost, he is so huge“Chu said about the singer’s fame.” He was walking down the street in Washington Heights, and people were coming out everywhere. “
The director praised how Anthony gave the short performance everything.
“You think he’s going to be a movie star diva,” he added. “And he just removes everything, and he becomes this character.”
Chu continued, “He was that guy – just so believable. I was like, ‘Why don’t you make more movies? You should be.’ He was so good. He was so truthful in that scene. I did not know he would bring it. “
Despite being a talented actor, Anthony is “In The Heights” the Grammy-winning singer-songwriter’s first feature film role in fifteen years. His last film appearance was in 2006 in the biographical drama “El Cantante” opposite his then wife, Jennifer Lopez.
Chu said ‘In The Heights’ should be more ‘human’ than ‘political’
The film version of “In The Heights” differs from its source material in how it treats Sonny’s story.
In Broadway and off-Broadway productions of the musical, Sonny is not paperless. Hudes (who wrote the script for the film adaptation) added it to the film plot after writing a separate musical, “Miss You Like Hell,” in 2018, which also talks about immigration.
“In The Heights” deals with themes of home, community and a sense of belonging. Chu told Insider that it is difficult to have these important conversations without highlighting someone like Sonny who knows where he belongs but is “asked to travel” because he is paperless.
The “Crazy Rich Asians” director added that they filmed a recording of the scene with Anthony “actually twice as long”, and the filmmakers briefly considered including the longer cut in the film, where Anthony’s character reveals Sonny’s true immigration status at the time rather than just hinting at it (as he does in the final version of the film).
“So in the end, we were like, ‘Let’s not tell the audience yet,'” Chu told Insider about the scene with Ramos and Anthony. “We cut it off so you do not know exactly. Some people get it, others do not.”
“It got more dramatic, interestingly dramatic,” he added.
Diaz told Teen Vogue in a profile released Thursday that he wanted to play Sonny in a way that would “raise and show [undocumented people] in a positive sense. “
“It was a conversation that we just wanted it as not something that defined him,” Diaz told the publication. “But it’s there and sets the rules for his life, because Sonny will eventually just be able to grow up and do great things.”