Phillipa Soo interview: ‘Hamilton’
“Hamilton” star Phillipa Soo took her final bow on stage at the Richard Rodgers Theatre on July 9, 2016, just days after recording what would become 2020’s “Hamilton” movie on Disney Plus. That film, a streaming smash that received 12 Emmy nominations this year — including one in the Best Movie/Limited Supporting Actress category for Soo — has allowed its all-star cast an opportunity rare among Broadway performers.
“It’s so unique to be able to revisit it and watch it in that way,” Soo tells Gold Derby in a new interview (watch the exclusive video above). “Usually when I’m done with the show it lives in my memory and photographs and maybe a soundtrack. For me, watching it for the first time, I was very emotional and so excited to see the nuances and the energy and the collaboration between the cast and ensemble.”
Soo is one of a number of “Hamilton” stars who received not only Tony Award nominations for the show but recognition from the Television Academy this summer. The actress calls the nomination “an honor” and says she’s especially grateful for how “Hamilton” continues to hold such major real estate in her life.
“There’s a chemistry shift that happens in my body,” Soo says about watching the movie. “My muscles start remembering. I felt myself watching myself singing and thinking, ‘Wow, I need to breathe more.’”
“It all comes flooding back because I know that experience lives somewhere in my body, in my cells,” she adds. “I was reminded of beautiful things that I’ve forgotten and things I’ve definitely not forgotten that were challenging and wonderful and beautiful about the performance.”
Soo plays Eliza Hamilton in the musical, the wife of Alexander Hamilton (fellow Emmy nominee Lin-Manuel Miranda) and a member of the Schuyler family. Throughout the show, Eliza evolves from a starry-eyed optimist who falls hard for Hamilton into a woman who overcomes numerous hardships, including the death of a child and Hamilton’s infidelity.
“What I learned from getting to step into her shoes was the concept that strength and courage and fortitude are a result of a deep understanding of humanity and compassion and empathy,” Soo says about Eliza. “Those things need to coexist in order to successfully work and implement themselves into the fabric of our society. Her legacy continues to inspire me in my own work, my own career, my own activism. I hope that now that people get to watch that show and her story, that they’re also inspired by that.”
Soo has kept extremely busy since stepping off the “Hamilton” stage, starring in a Broadway production of “Amelie,” playing a major voice role in Netflix’s “Over the Moon,” and next appearing in the Hulu limited series “Dopesick” this fall. That show, from executive producer Danny Strong and director Barry Levinson, focuses on the opioid epidemic in America. Soo plays a pharma rep in the project, a character she says isn’t as “lovely and nice as Eliza.”
“But she’s a human and she’s trying really hard to make it all work,” she adds. “Which I think is true for a lot of us: we’re trying to figure it out and get by.”
“Hamilton” is now streaming on Disney Plus.