For the stunned crowds who watched In the Heights during the musical’s opening weekend, yes, that was Marc Anthony in that stark mid-movie scene.
Anthony, Jennifer Lopez’s ex world music star, is almost unrecognizable, looking worn, unshaven and unkempt as he drinks beer in the morning.
His character was created for the film, Usnavi’s alcoholic uncle and father of young Sonny. In the scene, Usnavi talks about Sonny’s future, but his father is more attentive to the baseball game on television.
It is gritty.
Ramos says he started his drama game when he saw just how in the zone Anthony was.
I was bothering you, says Ramos. I was like, hey, I better bring it up, cause my man comes for blood.
That scene is going to surprise the public. People aren’t going to expect Marc Anthony to do something like this, so it’s really special, says producer Scott Sanders.
Anthony, born in New York City to Puerto Rican parents, was a huge fan of In The Heights during its 2008 Broadway performance, and saw it several times. So when the role of his father was written, producer Lin-Manuel Miranda texted Anthony, who has appeared in movies like Man on Fire and Bringing Out the Dead. Anthony signed immediately.
When the superstar singer first visited the Washington Heights set to discuss the role, he was followed by so many fans and paparazzi that director Jon M. Chu had to take refuge and hold the reunion in Anthony’s beleaguered limo.
People were banging on windows, there was security, it wasn’t a joke, says Chu, who wanted to make sure Anthony was ready for a small but brave role. Marc said, I’m coming, not like the Marc Anthony you know, I’m going to go in.
But Chu wasn’t sure what Anthony was really going to bring, especially when the star appeared in the seedy apartment in his sunglasses and his star outfit.
He was wondering if he would be present enough for these important scenes. It was as if this could ruin it, Chu says. But Anthony took off his glasses and said to his concerned director: I get this. Do not worry. Just look.
To Chu’s surprise, Anthony became the character once he put on the outfit and sat on the couch.
The guy brought it in, Chu says. Two seconds later and I really don’t know if he was drunk or what is going on. He is out of it. And then right after, he goes back to being Marc Anthony. He was like, ‘Was it okay, Jon?’ I was like, that was amazing. Do more.
It was Anthony’s idea to make unsteady motions with his hands and carelessly unbuckle his belt. Why those choices?
Honestly, I don’t even really understand what he’s saying. He just felt that it was very important not to have the buckle on. I’m not going to interfere with that, Chu says.
Chu says there were many more shots from Anthony and Ramos that were even more powerful. But he had to cut the scene as he revealed a plot point that he wanted to keep secret.
Hopefully we can post that sometime as it’s even better than what you saw, says Chu. That guy will win an Oscar one day if he makes more movies. Safely.
Dramatic actor Jimmy Smits, who surprisingly sings and dances for In the Heights, was inspired by the non-musical cameo of world music star Anthony.
The dramatic guy sings here, while the lead singer does this dramatic scene, says Smits. But I’ve seen Marc’s scene a couple of times, and I’m sitting there and I’m like, ‘Wow!’ I love the fact that he chose to do that. That scene was a gift to all of us.