Daveed Diggs on Working with Cookie Monster for a Super Bowl Ad: 'I'm a Huge Fan' of All Things Sesame Street
The Hamilton star remixes the iconic tune "People in Your Neighborhood" for the campaign
Daveed Diggs is back in the neighborhood!
This time, he's giving Big Bird the inside scoop on all their local favorites along Sesame Street that they can have delivered straight to their front door.
The Hamilton star filmed a Super Bowl commercial with DoorDash to raise awareness for the delivery service's campaign to benefit the Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit behind Sesame Street. Starting Feb. 7, the app will donate $1 from every order, up to $1 million, to help Sesame Workshop's kid-focused social impact work.
"I think you'd have been hard pressed to get me to say no to anything involving Sesame Street," Diggs told PEOPLE. "I'm a pretty big fan."
This project isn't the actor's first trip to the neighborhood. He previously played the part of Mr. Noodle in season 47 of Sesame Street and sang a rendition of the bathtime tune "Rubber Duckie." This time, he remixes the iconic theme "People in Your Neighborhood."
Diggs told PEOPLE he still gets a little starstruck each time he works with the characters.
"The performers are incredible. I remember sitting on the couch with Cookie Monster, and we're between takes just having conversations, you know, just like actors talk to each other between takes, catching up on what each other was doing," Diggs recalled. "You totally forget that [those characters] are animated."
He isn't the only one who gets excited each time he lands a gig with the Muppets, either.
"I have a lot of friends who have kids, and they all tell me that, of all the things I do, this is the most important in their house," the actor said, laughing. "The times that I worked on Sesame Street, those are the things that get the most play in their house."
The Snowpiercer actor has recently dived into more voicework of his own — as the voice of Paul in Pixar's Soul and Sebastian in the upcoming live-action Little Mermaid reimagining (a role that he said he did more research for than any other).
He says voice acting is a favorite because it allows him to experiment. "It's all of my favorite things about acting without some of the things that stress me out more, because you can sort of try anything," he said. "When you're filming something [live-action], the time allowed is so limited, so you have to get it right in a finite amount of time. The great thing about animation as a voice is, you can keep coming back to it.
"The Little Mermaid was a wholly different experience and one that was kind of amazing because we rehearsed that like a play. We actually got to know each other and be in the room together before, you know, before everything shut down, and we couldn't do that any longer. It's more cohesive than most animation experiences. It really feels like a family in a way that I don't get outside of the theater."
Diggs launched his career through stage performing, starting in experimental theater. He met Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda while working with the freestyle rap group Freestyle Love Supreme.
A few years later, Miranda invited him to read early versions of the show that would eventually become a smash hit — and for which Diggs would win a Tony and Grammy award.
It's been nearly a year since Broadway shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As the milestone approaches, the performer reflected on how the hiatus in live theater has affected both artists and audiences.
"There's so much happening on these shows that people don't realize. There's a whole economy that exists there," he said, acknowledging that every industry has been negatively impacted by pandemic, but "the ones that require us to gather in a space together in order to experience it have been particularly difficult to revive."
He continued, "Broadway was sort of the one place in the country where you could make a living, like a real living, at [theater]. And the fact that it's been gone for a year is a huge hit to many people."
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Diggs also said that the theater shutdown isn't just about getting performers back to work. It's also about nurturing human connection.
"To me, it is the most human way that we figure out how to tell stories," he said. "We actually need [the theater], as sort of a breeding ground for all of the other things that tend to get more shine or enjoy more popularity like film and television, [to] figure out what the humanity of [the story] is."
The actor's Super Bowl spot with the Muppets will air during the first quarter of the game on Sunday. As for his own plans that day, Diggs said he'll be celebrating as a party of one.
"If we weren't all about the distancing these days, I probably would have people over. I have a pretty good house to watch sporting events at, [but] I'll just be doing it by myself this time," he said, adding that he isn't rooting for a specific team this year.
"I don't actually have a horse in this race, which is kind of nice," he said. "I think it's gonna be a good show."