Blink and You Might Miss These Clever In the Heights Easter Eggs
You may have to watch In the Heights more than once to catch all the movie has to offer. Amid the cast's amazing vocals and captivating choreography, there are plenty of Easter eggs planted by the musical's creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and the movie's director, Jon M. Chu. So many, in fact, that Chu calls the film a product of the "Lin-ematic universe," and we're inclined to agree. Whether it's a nod to Hamilton or a family reference, there are plenty of tiny treasures to look out for in the film. Blink and you might miss 'em, which is why we've broken down the most notable hidden moments ahead.
The Hamilton Hold Tone
When Kevin is on the phone with the Stanford admissions office, you can hear an instrumental version of "You'll Be Back" from Hamilton play over the phone. This is a nod to a comical scene in Lin-Manuel Miranda's other hit Broadway musical, where King George III makes his stage debut. "That was indeed a Lin idea, and we wanted to make it a Muzak version," Chu told TheWrap. "It's all part of the 'Lin-ematic Universe.'"
The Lottery Numbers
Each of the winning lottery ticket numbers "5-7-16-26-33" holds personal significance to director Jon M. Chu. He told Vulture, "Five is the month of my wife's birth; 7-16 is my daughter's birthday; 7-26 is my anniversary and also the day my son was due. Thirty-three is my favorite number. Then when I showed my wife, she was like, 'You know our anniversary is the 27th, right? And the baby is due on the 27th.' However, just a few weeks later, my baby was born on the 26th, so he had my back."
Marc Anthony's Character
Usnavi's alcoholic uncle never makes an appearance in the Broadway musical, but Lin-Manuel Miranda texted Marc Anthony specifically to take on this role on screen. Anthony was a big fan of the stage show and agreed to make a short surprise appearance sans his signature sunglasses.
Christopher Jackson's In the Heights Return
You can't miss Lin-Manuel Miranda's many appearances as the piragua guy, but unless you've seen In the Heights with the original Broadway cast (or watched Hamilton) you might've missed Christopher Jackson's cameo. The actor was the first to play Benny on stage and also took on the role of George Washington alongside Miranda's Alexander Hamilton.
During the In the Heights film, Jackson can be spotted a few times as the Mister Softee truck driver. Make sure you stay 'til the end to catch Miranda and Jackson facing off in the end credits scene!
An Appearance by Lin-Manuel Miranda's Parents
Nina is confronted by many neighborhood faces during her emotional "Breathe" ballad, but perhaps none are as important to Lin-Manuel Miranda as his parents' cameo. Luis Miranda Jr. and Luz Towns-Miranda sing the line "Welcome home" to Nina in a quick scene, a beautiful way for Lin to honor his own family and roots.
Romantic Nods to Lin-Manuel Miranda's Wife
Cue the "aws!" Lin-Manuel Miranda named Usnavi's love interest after his wife, Vanessa Nadal. She also grew up in Washington Heights, where she and Miranda met in high school. Miranda made sure there were other nods to Nadal throughout the film, including giving the realtor her last name, filming the "When You're Home" scene where she lived in her first apartment, and including her grandmother's building in a shot.
"We walked into the park, and she saw where the shot was being framed, she burst into tears and said, that's my grandmother's building. And her grandmother's building is in this movie," Miranda told NPR. "It just means so much to us."
Honoring Lin-Manuel Miranda's Abuela
Like Usnavi, Lin-Manuel Miranda had a special grandmother-like figure in his life. His beloved nanny, "Abuela Mundi," was the inspiration for the character Abuela Claudia in the musical, and a special prop bore her name in the film. You know the record scratch that repeats "Siempre" over and over? It has Mundi's name printed across the front. She passed away in 2017, and lives on in Miranda's memory.
And Many Other Cameos!
Clearly, Lin-Manuel Miranda loves to include his real-life family and friends in the film. For example, Mandy Gonzalez, Broadway's original Nina, can be heard singing in the background of Abuela Claudia's dry-cleaning scene. Seth Stewart, the show's first Graffiti Pete, played the club bartender that served Benny. Javier Muñoz and Rickey Tripp, also part of the ensemble cast, were quickly featured in the film's finale number.
Drag race contestant Valentina also makes an appearance during the "No Me Diga" salon scene, and Broadway veteran Patrick Page took on the role of Pike Phillips, the man buying out Kevin's dispatch agency with his dry-cleaning business. It sure is tempting to watch the film again knowing all of the secret parts are in play, right?