Lin-Manuel Miranda Reveals the Story Behind the Song He Wrote for Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Lin-Manuel Miranda and Karen Olivo Photo: @Lin_Manuel/Twitter

Last week, fans of Star Wars and musical theater were very excited to learn that J.J. Abrams and Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator and star of Hamilton and presumptive winner of every Tony Award in 2016, wrote a song for The Force Awakens. During an interview on The Tonight Show, Abrams, director of said space saga, explained that the whole thing came about after Abrams met Miranda during intermission at a Hamilton performance, where Miranda jokingly offered to provide music for a cantina scene, should there be one, in Episode VII. Miranda confirmed Abrams’s account on Twitter, but at Sunday night’s Kennedy Center Honors, which Miranda was attending to pay tribute to Honoree Rita Moreno, he delved into a bit more detail about the project.

“The way JJ told it on The Tonight Show is how it happened,” Miranda tells Vulture. “I was joking. He said he loved Hamilton and its music. And I said, ‘Well, if you need a cantina scene, some cantina music, let me know.’ And he took me up on it. We wrote the song together. We had one sort of music file that we shared back-and-forth. I’d write stuff, and then he’d add stuff, and I’d take away some of his stuff and add some of mine. It was a joyous collaboration. He’s a really wonderful musician, on top of the polymath we already know he is.”

(Fun fact about J.J. Abrams: He earned his first official film credit at the age of 16, by composing music for a low-budget horror movie called Nightbeast.)

Given the spoiler-cautious atmosphere surrounding The Force Awakens, Miranda acknowledged that he might “literally just evaporate” if he said too much about the song — not that he has all that much information to share. “I haven’t even seen the scene I scored,” he said. “J.J. just sent me the temp music they scored to, I started with that beats per minute, that tempo, and then we just started writing from there.”

He hopes to finally see that scene, and more, along with the rest of the Jedi-hungry masses next week. “I’m hoping to be there opening night. I’m going to be very tired at the show the next day, but I’ll be with the Star Wars gang.”

Lin-Manuel Miranda on His Star Wars Cantina Song