[…] “Washington was always someone who was keenly aware of appearance, keenly aware of the fact that there are eyes on him, and keenly aware that every move that he made was going be measured and recorded for posterity,” says Jackson.
“So,” I say, already hating myself just a little bit, “Probably going to be emotional when you sing that ‘One Last Time’ on stage for your last time.”’
Jackson audible groans. “It’s going to be fine. I’m really cynical about that question, and I’ll tell you why. It’s so totally obvious.” (I don’t disagree.)
“It’s emotional, but that song takes me to a place every night that doesn’t need any extra. And it’s hard enough that just pulling it off—if I can get through that song without messing it up every night, then that’s a success. If I start thinking about self-indulgent—me, me, this is my last time—I’m not Washington, I’m Chris. And that’s not why I go to work every day. It’s like asking a baseball player if he’s going to try to hit a home run his last at bat.”
The brutal nature of an eight-show-a-week Broadway schedule has kept Jackson in the center of the Hamilton phenomena but unable to appreciate it in the ways that will only be apparent with the benefit of hindsight. There are maybe a dozen or so people who understand what it’s been to be in the eye of the hurricane, experiencing what made Hamilton so special but not able to see it from the outside.
“Like, for Lin’s last show—there’s no one on the planet that I prefer to be on stage with more than that guy there. Doing anything. And for his last show, I gave him a salute in a moment where only he and I and maybe [director] Tommy Kail would notice. I didn’t cry,” Jackson said. “He almost did.”
I asked when the salute was, already scrolling through a mental rolodex of YouTube clips, hoping to be the archeologist who’d be able to tease out which salute wasn’t like the others. Jackson just shakes his head.
“People want to know when it was, inside baseball, all that, but I’m not saying. It was for us. We get to have some things too.”
“… the stage is something I would like to do quite soon. It’s been years and it’s what I did when I left drama school, of five or six years, it was straight theater. And so yeah I think I need to get back and do it again.”