'In The Heights' Finds Its Benny With 'Straight Outta Compton' Star Corey Hawkins

The upcoming feature film adaptation of In the Heights has found its Benny. Corey Hawkins, star of Straight Outta Compton and the 24 revival, has been cast in In the Heights as one of its lead characters Benny, originated by Christopher Jackson in the Tony Award-winning Broadway play. Hawkins' addition fleshes out the In the Heights cast, which is lead by Anthony Ramos.

Deadline reports that Corey Hawkins is joining the In the Heights cast as one of its lead characters: Benny, a young man who works at the taxi dispatch office and dreams of opening his own business. The best friend of Ramos' lead character Usnavi, Benny is in love with Nina, the girl-next-door who has returned to the close-knit neighborhood of Washington Heights after her first year at college. But Benny struggles with her father — who happens to be his boss — who disapproves of their relationship.

Benny is the only character in the musical who doesn't speak Spanish. First played by Christopher Jackson (who went on to play George Washington in Hamilton) in the original Broadway cast, Benny is probably the second major character of the musical after Usnavi. Hawkins is a rising talent who will surely be able to step up to the challenge, though we don't know much about his singing voice. He's played a rap mogul in Straight Outta Compton, sure, but does that mean he has the chops? We'll have to wait and see.

Jon M. Chu (Crazy Rich Asians) will direct from a script written by Quiara Alegría Hudes (Hamilton). Miranda, who wrote and starred in the Broadway show, will produce In the Heights alongside Anthony Bregman, Mara Jacobs, and Scott Sanders.

Here's the synopsis of the musical:

In the Heights centers on a variety of characters living in the neighborhood of Washington Heights, on the northern tip of Manhattan. At the center of the show is Usnavi, a bodega owner who looks after the aging Cuban lady next door, pines for the gorgeous girl working in the neighboring beauty salon and dreams of winning the lottery and escaping to the shores of his native Dominican Republic. Meanwhile, Nina, a childhood friend of Usnavi's, has returned to the neighborhood from her first year at college with surprising news for her parents, who have spent their life savings on building a better life for their daughter. Ultimately, Usnavi and the residents of the close-knit neighborhood get a dose of what it means to be home.

In the Heights is set to open in theaters on June 26, 2020.