Since leaving his Broadway phenomenon Hamilton in July, Lin-Manuel Miranda has hardly slowed down, and he’s got the Mouse House to thank for it. He’ll soon fly to London to start filming the studio’s sequel Mary Poppins Returns, where he co-stars alongside Emily Blunt, but first he can celebrate the release of this month’s animated Moana, which features several songs penned by Miranda. Though Miranda’s work on Moana was only announced last summer, he secretly spent years on the project: Indeed, Disney chief creative officer John Lasseter and Moana directors John Musker and Ron Clements hired him before Hamilton became a hit. All involved are keen to continue the collaboration, and when Miranda sat down with Vulture yesterday, he divulged that he’s now collaborating with Zootopia co-director Byron Howard on a new animated film they are building from the ground up.
“That’s the fun thing about working with someone and having it go well — you go, ‘Okay, what else can we do?’” Miranda told Vulture. “Lasseter took me aside and said, ‘I have an idea: Here’s Byron, and you guys should start talking.’” Though he was excited, Miranda couldn’t say much else about the project, except to caution that it could take years to bear fruit, given the glacial pace of animated production. “We literally haven’t gotten in the room yet,” he said, “but we’re plotting.”
Something only incrementally further along is a live-action version of Disney’s classic musical The Little Mermaid, which Miranda boarded last July. “I’m intimidated,” confessed Miranda, who speaks reverently about the Oscar-winning 1989 film and even named his son Sebastian because of it. “This came out of a conversation with Disney, and basically they were like, ‘There’s no bigger fan of this movie than you, and no bigger public supporter.’”
Though it’s been reported that Miranda would co-produce the project and write new songs for it with Alan Menken, he said his participation is still being worked out. “We’re in super-early talks — I literally don’t have a title for what my job on The Little Mermaid is yet. Right now, it’s the guy who wears the ‘don’t mess it up’ hat. If I could sign a contract with that job title on it, that would be great! But that’s sort of where we are.”
After meeting with Menken and getting his blessing, Miranda has dived into the project headfirst. “If this requires new music, I’m here for that, and if this requires me weighing in on who makes this thing, I’m here for that. If this requires me just saying, ‘That doesn’t look like it’s underwater,’ I’m even here for that! It’s going to be a huge challenge to not make it feel uncanny valley–ish.” And if it requires Miranda to take a role himself, then what? “I’m such a fan that I can’t picture where I’d fit into that universe,” he said. “But no matter what, I’m here for the ride.”