'In The Heights' director named his son after the movie because he 'fell in love' with the Washington Heights neighborhood during filming

'In The Heights' director named his son after the movie because he 'fell in love' with the Washington Heights neighborhood during filming
It's impossible to not tap your feet to the infectious beats of "In The Heights."Macall Polay/Warner Bros.
  • The director of "In The Heights" named his son after the movie and the neighborhood they filmed in.
  • Jon M. Chu said he fell in love with Washington Heights in NYC while filming there.
  • "I had to name him 'Heights' because I wanted to say that word every day," Chu told Insider.

"In The Heights" director Jon M. Chu said he had such a great time filming the movie, he even named his son after the musical and the neighborhood it was shot in.

Based on the 2008 Lin-Manuel Miranda and Quiara Alegría Hudes Broadway musical of the same name, "In The Heights" tells the story of a close-knit group of people in the primarily Latino neighborhood of Washington Heights in New York City. Told mainly from the perspective of bodega owner Usnavi (played by Anthony Ramos), it is a moving film that touches on themes of legacy, community, and home.
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While promoting "In The Heights," Chu told Insider on Friday that filming in Washington Heights in Upper Manhattan was "the best decision we ever made," adding that the people in the neighborhood are "beautiful."
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"They engage with you, they yell at you if you're parked in the spot," Chu said about the neighborhood. "At the same time, they invite you in to celebrate with them. And they were hanging out the windows with their flags, cheering us on while we were shooting."

Chu compared the experience of filming the movie to "writing a love letter while falling in love" with the neighborhood and the community.

"In fact, I was having a baby at the same time and I had to name him 'Heights' because I wanted to say that word every day," Chu told Insider. "It meant everything to me to see a community that took care of each other like that."
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Chu's son, Jonathan Heights Chu, was born in July 2019 and, according to Instagram, the director wrapped filming "In The Heights" only days later.

A post shared by Jon M Chu (@jonmchu)

Chu and his wife, Kristin Hodge, also share a 3-year-old daughter, Willow, and are currently expecting their third child. The "Crazy Rich Asians" director told Insider that he asked Miranda and Hudes for permission before giving Heights his very special middle name.
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Both Miranda and Hudes reacted to news of Heights' birth (and the baby's touching name) in July 2019 with warm, congratulatory tweets. Miranda said "welcome home" to the newborn while Hude compared the baby's birth to an "opening night" for a movie.

"We call him Heights on the daily," Chu said about the toddler. "Even though that's his middle name, that's what we call him."

Chu called Miranda the 'best creative collaborator'

In addition to writing the music and lyrics of the original "In The Heights" musical, Miranda starred as Usnavi in both the off-Broadway and Broadway productions in 2007 and 2008 respectively. The Broadway production got 13 Tony nominations, taking home four awards.
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While he doesn't have the starring role in the movie adaptation, the master playwright makes brief but memorable appearances throughout the musical as "Piragua Guy" (named after a Puerto Rican dessert), who's selling shaved ice from a small cart.

A post shared by Jon M Chu (@jonmchu)

It's a delight watching Miranda sing "keep scraping by" as he pushes around colorful glass bottles filled with syrups and indulges in a silly feud with Mr. Softee (played by fellow "Hamilton" alumnus Christopher Jackson).

During an appearance on "The Tonight Show" on Tuesday, Miranda told host Jimmy Fallon that he wasn't planning on playing Piragua Guy in the movie but did so at the insistence of Chu and Hudes.
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"I was very content to let Anthony Ramos and this incredible cast kind of have their own experience," Miranda told Fallon about the cast.

Chu told Insider that it was as much of a delight having Miranda be involved behind-the-scenes in the movie, with the editing, casting, and music.

"We were shooting in his backyard of Washington Heights," Chu said about Miranda. "So he was there all the time and he gave us the best tour, showing me where he shot his home videos."
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"We became brothers through it all," he added.

"In The Heights," premieres on June 10 in theaters and on HBO Max.
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