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Hamilton movie was almost missing Leslie Odom Jr. due to unequal pay

by Dana Andersen. Published Mon 10 Aug 2020 10:35

Although praised for the diversity of its cast, Hamilton star Leslie Odom Jr. almost wasn’t in the film version of the hit musical, due to being offered less money than white leading actors.

Odom has been making a name for himself with movies like Murder on the Orient Express, and Harriet, but is arguably best known for his performance as Aaron Burr, in Hamilton.

He took of the role of Alexander Hamilton’s friend come rival when the show opened in 2015, and even won a Tony for Best Leading Actor in a Musical in 2016.

Playing the musicals narrator, he has a huge role in the show, behind only Alexander Hamilton himself.

However, the actor was almost missing from the filmed version, which was planned for a cinema release, until the pandemic prompted it to be released on Disney+ instead, in July.

Odom revealed on Dax Shepard’s Armchair Expert Podcast that he almost walked away from the filming of the show. He said: “I'm like, here's the thing: This is it. This is my area of expertise. This is all I have. This is my life's work on the stage too. And so I just can't sell it away for magic beans. I can't give it away.”

He continued talking about the issue, saying: “So I can ask CAA [Creative Arts Agency], what does my white counterpart, what does Aaron Tveit make to do Grease Live! on TV? What does he make to do Grease? This is Hamilton live, right?"

The actor then asked for the exact same amount that Tveit received for Grease Live!, adding that he “didn’t ask for a penny more.”

Although the actor must have been paid the amount he deserved, since we can see him perform in the filmed show, it wasn’t easy.

Odom explained: "The day before we shot that movie I called out. I was not kidding. I was not coming to work the next day to do the movie.”

The issue of performers of colour being paid less than their white peers is becoming more spoken about, in the hopes that, by coming forward with their own struggles, others will too, putting pressure on Hollywood to pay everyone equally for the work they do.


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