'Hamilton' Documentarian on Cut Footage: "I Hope the World Gets to See Them One Day"

PBS' 'Great Performances' will offer a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the hit musical on Oct. 21.
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The Television Critics Association summer press tour got a taste of Broadway on Thursday when Hamilton star Daveed Diggs appeared to discuss PBS' upcoming documentary about the musical sensation from which he recently departed.

"I had sort of given all of myself for the last two-plus years," Diggs told reporters when asked about his reason for leaving. "I felt like I could do what I did with it. … For me, it was time to find something else to do."

Diggs hasn't had any problem with that. So far, his dance card includes a role in the Julia Roberts film Wonder and a recurring role on the upcoming third season of Black-ish, of which he is a fan.

"I've always been a fan of Black-ish," he said. Diggs praised the comedy for being "honest and a little bit subversive in how it points out the workings of our world today. It lands really great points and has teaching moments."

When it comes to picking up his follow-up roles, other criteria was taken into account as well for the Tony winner. "It was just I've never done anything like it before. That's really the decision-making process," he said. "I had this great experience, and I'm not going to try to copy that."

Although he doesn't miss the "grind" of performing eight shows a week, "I miss getting to see my friends every night," Diggs said. "Getting to create something that you're the most proud of … of course I miss that. No matter how bad your day was, you got to come here and have this experience that I will never experience again."

That experience is the center of Hamilton's America, which will offer inside access to creator and former star Lin-Manuel Miranda and the rest of his creative team in the two years leading up to the show's August 2015 Broadway opening. In addition to giving a behind-the-scenes look into the making of Hamilton and the musical numbers, the project will look at the historical figure on which the production is based. "The A-story to me is the same as the musical: Hamilton," filmmaker Alex Horwitz said. "We kept our eye on that ball as Hamilton got bigger and bigger."

A clip from the documentary that screened at the panel showed Miranda at the White House speaking with President Barack Obama about Alexander Hamilton, followed by a special performance by the cast.

"That day is sort of engrained in my memory forever," said Diggs, who praised the president and first lady Michelle Obama for welcoming the large 40-person production into their home. "It's going to be a long time before that happens again probably," he said of visiting the first family. "We might never have a family that presents America like this again."

Horwitz recalled Miranda's initial meeting with Obama during his first year as commander-in-chief and going back to film the documentary during the final year of the Obama administration. "The life of this so parallels the Obama administration — you can read whatever political and historical and sociological mirrors there that you like," Horwitz said. "It's just a wonderful accident of timing."

Performing at the White House was just one of many highlights Diggs and his fellow castmembers enjoyed during their time on the Broadway sensation.

"You were a Beatle for a block," Diggs said of the show's growing popularity. "That's tough to deal with when that's not necessarily what you signed up for when you do a play. But that being said, it was as good as it could have been because the kind of people and the reasons people were attracted to it were so good."

Despite the show's astounding popularity, Horwitz said access to the making of the show never wavered. "[Lin] always made time," Horwitz noted. "It got harder to schedule things, but it didn't change, and I'm grateful for that."

Diggs praised the filmmaker: "Alex is a part of the family."

Because of his access to the cast and crew, Horwitz fielded many questions about what will happen to the pieces of footage that was left on the cutting-room floor.

"I don't know how, if at all, they'll see the light of day. They're exploring options. That's all I know," Horwitz said. "I hope the world gets to see them one day."

Hamilton's America debuts on PBS' Great Performances on Oct. 21 at 9 p.m.

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