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The show

  • Autobiographical Role: In the original one-man version of the show, Jonathan Larson essentially played a semi-autobiographical version of himself.
  • Cut Song: "Boho Days" was cut from the final version.
  • Reality Subtext: The musical reads as a love letter to Michael, who is The Heart of the show, and convinces Jon to stop being a selfish arrogant artist and focus on the people in his life. Matt O'Grady, Jonathan Larson's lifelong friend, served as the inspiration for Michael and revealed in an interview that Jon dedicated the show to him. Every time he sees a performance, it allows him to be with Jon again for a few hours and is flattered that Jon made him the emotional center of it.
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The film

  • Accidentally Correct Writing: The pool scenes were filmed at the Tony Dapolito Recreation Center in the West Village simply because the filmmakers felt it resembled the place described in "Swimming". During filming, they discovered it was the actual pool Jonathan frequented.
  • Dawson Casting: Andrew Garfield was 37 playing Jonathan at when he's 29 about to turn 30 and in the 1992 portions when he's 32.
  • Deleted Scene: "Green Green Dress" was filmed as a fully-choreographed number, but Miranda cut it when he realized it slowed the pace of the film.
  • Descended Creator: Director Lin-Manuel Miranda is a Spanish-speaking cook in the Moondance Diner.
  • Doing It for the Art: The production went to great efforts to recreate both the Moondance Diner and Jonathan's apartment at 508 Greenwich Street; in the case of the latter, even getting their hands on several of his real possessions. Adam Pascal, Daphne Ruben-Vega and Wilson Jermaine Heredia described the recreation of the apartment as particularly surreal, since they had visited it many times in preparation for RENT.
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  • Dyeing for Your Art: Andrew Garfield took singing lessons for almost a year in order to prepare.
  • Fake American: Andrew Garfield continues his long tradition of playing American-accented characters.
  • Irony as She Is Cast: Within the film, Jonathan is a music genius while his best friend Michael is stated (by Michael himself) to be a mediocre actor and singer, which is part of why he moved into the business sector before the start of the story. Jon thinks that Michael is being modest and tells anyone who will listen that Michael is one of the best actors he's known. In real life, Jonathan's actor Andrew Garfield had no professional music training or experience before being cast in the role while Michael's actor, Robin de Jesús, is a Broadway musical theater veteran of many years.
  • Missing Trailer Scene: In the trailer, Michael asks Jon at their apartment whether he's acting out of love or fear, with Jon comically replying that he's acting out of fear 100%. In the movie proper, Michael asks this question at the diner Jon works at, and while Jon doesn't directly answer him there, he later tells Susan that he's acting out of love. Completely lacking context, Susan can only reply with a "What?"
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  • No Stunt Double: For the swimming scenes, a body double was hired to be Jonathan whenever Andrew Garfield's face wasn't onscreen. However, Andrew's father was actually a swim instructor and it turned out that Andrew could swim better than the body double could, so he just did all the swimming scenes himself. Andrew's dad was originally going to be the man swimming slowly in front of Jonathan but it didn't quite work out.
  • Production Posse: A ton of Broadway talent shows up in the film (especially in "Sunday") but special attention should be paid to the Hamilton and In the Heights alumni.
    • Robin De Jesus, the original Broadway Sonny, is Michael.
    • Christopher Jackson, Phillipa Soo, and Renée Elise Goldsberry all appear.
      • Joshua Henry also appeared in Hamilton, although he joined the show after Lin had left.
    • Longtime Miranda collaborator Utkarsh Ambudkar cameos as one of the advertising focus group members. Other members of Freestyle Love Supreme also show up throughout the film (including beatboxer Shockwave as one of the doormen in "No More").
  • Real-Life Relative:
    • The voice of Susan's friend Deborah, who calls Jonathan about problems with the speakers for Susan's show, is provided by Vanessa Nadal. She is Lin-Manuel Miranda's wife in real life.
    • Lin-Manuel Miranda's father, Luis, cameos as the concierge behind the desk in "No More."
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: New scenes were added into the film after extensive research into Jonathan Larson's life.
    • Ira Weitzman became a supporting character in the film after several interviews with the real man.
    • The scene where Stephen Sondheim gives Jon feedback on his musical.
    • The songs "Boho Days", "Swimming" and "Play Game" don't feature in the original Auburn script, having been cut from the original 1990 performance by Jonathan Larson himself - but were restored in the film.
  • Queer Character, Queer Actor: The openly-gay Robin de Jesus plays the gay Michael.
  • Throw It In: Stephen Sondheim voicing himself leaving an answering machine message for Jonathan came about because he had asked to rewrite it after seeing the film (feeling he wouldn't say what was originally there). Bradley Whitford was unavailable to re-record it, so Stephen did it himself.
  • Voice-Only Cameo: Bradley Whitford plays Stephen Sondheim throughout the film, but the real Sondheim lends his voice to a voicemail he leaves Jonathan near the end.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Jordan Fisher was meant to appear for a brief scene but the day of shooting ended up being the same as his wedding day. Ultimately, the scene was cut due to time.
    • Chip Zien and Joanna Gleason were supposed to cameo in the "Sunday" sequence, as a nod to Into the Woods, but they couldn't make it due to COVID-19 restrictions. This resulted in Lin-Manuel Miranda cameoing himself.
    • Likewise, there had been plans to include more locations from RENT, such as Tompkins Square Park and the Life Cafe in the East Village. But COVID restrictions had those scenes relocated to the diner.


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