Plus, which musical number moved Leslie Odom Jr. to tears the first time he heard it

By Chancellor Agard
Updated May 20, 2016 09:00 PM
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Theo Wargo/WireImage

One of Hamilton‘s breakout stars thought the musical was a bad idea when he first about it.

Daveed Diggs, the Tony Award nominated actor with the rapid fire flow who plays Thomas Jefferson and Marquis de Lafayette, was very skeptical of the musical when director Thomas Kail first told him about the hip-hop musical about the founding father, which garnered a historic 16 Tony Award nominations.

“I said it was a terrible idea,” Diggs, 34, revealed during a SiriusXM Town Hall Q&A with the Hamilton cast and crew hosted by Anderson Cooper. “I’m pretty sure I said it to Tommy [Kail]’s face.”

“This is true. Daveed is a truth teller,” Kail added.

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Diggs went on to explain his apprehension.

“As a rapper, as a person who has grown up writing rap songs and being in that world, you get really nervous about bulls— around your culture, about somebody trying to take that and force it onto something where it doesn’t belong. And that’s what it sounded like to me and it was like, but it’s Lin [Manuel Miranda],” said Diggs, explaining that he considered it because he knew Miranda was a “genius” and he also needed money.

He was sold on the musical when he heard the demos of Miranda singing every part for the first time. “But as soon as you heard it, it made perfect sense,” he said. “It was like hearing my friend at his best, being totally brilliant all over these songs.”

Leslie Odom Jr., who plays Aaron Burr in the musical, also shared his reaction the first time he encountered the musical. In 2013, he attended a reading of the first act at Vassar College and was “in a puddle” of tears by the second song.

“The song that really wrecked me was ‘The Story of Tonight‘ because there were four men of color on a stage singing a song about friendship and love and brotherhood,” he said. “I’d never seen anything like that. That was the revolution.”

Hamilton‘s 16 Tony Award nominations include best musical, best original score, and seven nods in the acting categories.

The Hamilton Town Hall special will air Friday at 6 p.m. ET on SiriusXM’s On Broadway (Ch. 72).