Though we’ve already seen Daveed Diggs on both ABC’s black-ish and Netflix’s Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt since he left Broadway’s Hamilton last year, the first project he filmed after leaving was actually Wonder, the adaptation of R.J. Palacio’s best-selling book.
And, just like with his dual roles in Hamilton, which Diggs scored without an audition (he was in a freestyle rap group with Hamilton director Tommy Kail and a little nobody named Lin-Manuel Miranda), Diggs also got the part of Wonder in a slightly unconventional way. “There was no time for me to tape or audition or anything — they needed to cast the thing!” he recalls. So, on a bright, sunny day in the summer of 2016, during his last week on Broadway, Diggs took a Skype call with Wonder director Stephen Chbosky from the roof of the Richard Rodgers theater.
“We had this great conversation, and they decided they would cast me,” Diggs explains. “I had read the screenplay, and it was great. It was so sweet but it wasn’t saccharine at all. It felt so good: The way the kids were written was so good, so honest. I was excited to be around it.”
What happened next was a whirlwind: He finished Hamilton on a Friday, took an early morning train to Washington, D.C. to co-host the Youth Speaks National Poetry Slam on Saturday, then hopped on a 5 a.m. flight to Vancouver to start shooting Wonder alongside such illustrious costars as Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson. “Then I’m on set the next with Jacob Tremblay, who’s like, Laurence Olivier in a 12-year-old’s body,” he laughs. “It’s crazy!”