Lin-Manuel Miranda Tells Us How Fosse/Verdon Pulled Off His Secret Cameo
Miranda discusses his spoiler-alert moment, live tweeting, and All That Jazz.
[This story contains spoilers about the final episode of Fosse/Verdon.]
No one — and yet, perhaps everyone — expected Fosse/Verdon executive producer and live-tweeter Lin-Manuel Miranda to show up onscreen at some point during the show's run on FX. It took all eight weeks, but in last night's series finale, Miranda finally made an appearance. In one of the show's many layered twists, Miranda played Roy Scheider, the Oscar-nominated actor cast as Joe Gideon, Bob Fosse's screen alter ego, in Bob Fosse's non-biopic biopic All That Jazz. (Even he knows that's a lot to unpack.)
Truth be told, Miranda was determined take on a role — any role — at some point in the series. "My side joke was, 'Well, who am I playing? Kander? Schwartz?,'" Miranda said on the afternoon that the finale aired. "It was a general 'put me in, coach!,' like I do on any and all things." Ultimately, it was executive producer, director, and longtime Miranda cabinet member Thomas Kail who made the final decision. "Tommy looked me up and down and said, 'Maybe Scheider.' Cut to me getting measured for my sparkly top."
In the episode, we see Miranda as Scheider (and Miranda as Scheider as Gideon) in two different sequences. The first, a rehearsal, finds Gwen (Michelle Williams) and Nicole Fosse (Juliet Brett) watching Bob (Sam Rockwell) stage a scene where Gideon has a tender dance with his young daughter (in another twist, that role is played by Austyn Johnson, who played Michelle Williams's daughter in The Greatest Showman).
The real Nicole Fosse choreographed this small pas de deux, an aspect that Miranda calls "very meaningful." "The way Nicole describes it is, 'What we know as Fosse choreography was a language in my home that my mother, my father, and I spoke,'" Miranda explains. "To get to work with her directly was really amazing." (And in yet another touching moment, Nicole's real-life son Sean plays a production assistant who gets to shush his onscreen mother and grandmother.)
The second sequence is the filming of the movie's finale, Gideon's death song "Bye Bye Life." Unlike other re-creations of iconic numbers from Fosse's career, Miranda didn't have to learn the original choreography, "just the moment where he's going up and down the aisles." In the scene, Scheider encourages Bob to take an on-set bow for himself, and Miranda took that opportunity to give credit to his creative team. "I said, 'Give it up for Tommy Kail and Nicole Fosse!,' and they jumped up and danced up and down the aisles as everyone cheered." It was a special moment for Miranda to orchestrate and witness. "I'm sure people who didn't know who I was were like, 'How does this day player get to order around the director of the show?'"
That Fosse/Verdon has afforded Broadway geeks the chance to have "a weekly water cooler moment" where there never was a water cooler moment (at least since Smash) has given Miranda great pride, and it's been amplified by his weekly live tweeting. "It's a joy to get to connect with other people who love these musicals and love the work that this couple is responsible for. I saw my live tweeting as a 'produce-orial' task — as a producer, you'll do anything," he concludes. "Some days, that's just tweeting every Tuesday night, and some days, that's putting on a chest hair merkin." And a sequined button-up.