For the Love of the Guy Who Wrote That Musical ‘Hamlet’
Rothfuss has millions of fans around the world, and a good many of them are celebrities. Of course, that doesn’t mean he knows all of them. In fact, one of his biggest fans is one of the world’s biggest celebrities … but there was a time when Rothfuss didn’t know that.
“About a year before anything, (Lin-Manuel Miranda) tweeted to me a quote from my book and I replied to him, not knowing who he was. He was like, ‘Hey, I do musical stuff. If you’re ever interested in adapting … blah, blah, blah.’ Not knowing who he was, I was like, ‘Uh, yeah, that’s cool … um, thanks?’”
As Rothfuss puts it, his small-town home in Wisconsin is not really the place to be on top of the musical theatre scene. Of course, his friends knew exactly who Miranda was and let Rothfuss know about it.
“They were all like, ‘Holy shit! Do you know who this is?’ and I’m like, ‘Yeah, he’s some music guy from New York. He wrote ‘Hamlet.’’” Rothfuss laughed. “That was the joke for a long time. All of my friends were into this musical and they were really excited about it.”
— Lin-Manuel Miranda (@Lin_Manuel) June 25, 2016
Two weeks before the original Broadway cast of ‘Hamilton’ was set to leave, Rothfuss and a friend traveled to New York to see the show. Since they followed each other on Twitter, Rothfuss sent Miranda a message saying he was in town and was coming to see the show.
“He was like, ‘Oh, shit, let the stage manager know and you can come backstage and we can talk.’ And I thought oh, that’s sweet.”
Rothfuss, however, was not prepared for how the show would impact him.
“It just destroyed me,” Rothfuss said. “I had no idea what I was getting into. It was amazing. I just cried a quart of tears.” At this point, Miranda was in Rothfuss’s periphery. “He’s showing up everywhere on my radar. He’s giving speeches, he’s showing up on Jimmy Kimmel, he rapped with the president, he’d won a Pulitzer, and before I go meet him, I’m like oh shit. I just saw this musical, one of the most stunning, lyrically bent, amazing, evocative, emotional pieces of storytelling I’ve ever experienced. I go back to meet him and he was just so sweet.”
Miranda is a total geek for the ‘Kingkiller Chronicle’ books, and the two talked for 20 minutes backstage at the Richard Rodgers Theater “in the middle of this mad part of his life.” After Miranda left his role as Alexander Hamilton, Rothfuss reached out to him to tell him he was working on a project with Lionsgate.
“I said, ‘A year ago, you said if I were ever going to adapt it, I should talk to you. So, I’m reaching out.’ Two weeks go by and I’m like, ‘I’m an asshole. This is such a dick thing to do. Everyone wants a piece of Lin-Manuel Miranda now that he’s won 14 Tony’s or whatever. I am so embarrassed that I asked him.’”
Miranda contacted him shortly thereafter, apologizing profusely, saying that now that he was no longer performing, everything in his life had gotten much busier. Still, Miranda wanted to be involved in the project.
In fact, Rothfuss said two of the coolest things that has happened to him over the past decade came courtesy of Miranda. After seeing ‘Hamilton’ and having the music stuck in his head for “literally months,” Miranda showed him the chapter in ‘The Name of the Wind,’ he was trying to capture when he wrote the song, ‘The Story of Tonight.’
Later, Rothfuss was invited to New York to see a screener of the Disney animated movie ‘Moana,’ for which Miranda had written music.
“I watched that with a friend and I just cried buckets of tears at the end of that, too, because Lin knows how to get me right in the feels,” Rothfuss said. “This was kind of his going away party, so he’s there with a hundred members of his friends and family and he’s graciously allowed me to tag along to this thing. We’re all watching this, and the graphics weren’t even completely finished yet, and we’re all in this theater. So, I’m like, OK, I’m going to ghost out of here. I’m not going to bug him, but I’ve got to go shake his hand and say that it’s amazing.
“I kind of go up to him sheepishly so I can do just a real quick goodbye, and he looks at me as he’s coming down the stairs from where he was watching it and he looks at me and says, ‘You’ve been crying, too!’ and he has this huge, huge Cheshire grin and he starts to sing from the end of the movie, and he looks at me and goes, ‘I know your name …’ And I’m like, ‘Motherfucker, Lin, are you kidding me?! Seriously, are you kidding me?! Did you …?’ and he laughs and says ‘Oh, of course, I did, of course, I put that in there!’ And this is possibly the coolest thing that has ever happened to me. So yeah, I am such a geek for him and he has such a good heart.
The TV Show Before Kvothe
While Rothfuss couldn’t elaborate on the movie situation and who’s possibly directing it, he was very excited to talk about the prequel TV series coming to Showtime. He and Miranda are executive producers for both the movies and TV show.
John Rogers, who created the TV show ‘The Librarians,’ is the showrunner for the Kingkiller Chronicle prequel series.
“Showtime did finally greenlight the writers’ room,” Rothfuss said. “It’s really amazing and I love working with John Rogers because he’s a deep, deep geek and he really loves these books and he really knows how to make TV. He’s put together an amazing writing room.”
Rothfuss said he was actually invited to visit the writers and answer questions they had about Temerant, the world he created for the Kingkiller Chronicle.
“To be an actual, functional part of that team, which is really rare because you don’t bring in the author of the book when you’re doing an adaptation like this,” Rothfuss said. “But they did for me, and John made it happen. It was really amazing and I’m so, so pleased with how the TV show is developing.”
Rothfuss said the show would be set a generation before the events of ‘The Name of the Wind’ and would follow two traveling musicians. One of the more popular internet rumors is that the show will focus on the parents of Kvothe, the character at the center of the Kingkiller Chronicle books.
“That is … the popular internet rumor,” Rothfuss laughed, without giving anything away. “I don’t think I’ve said this before, but it is set a generation before the events of ‘The Name of the Wind’ and the reason John pitched this show and the reason I loved it is because we sat down and as he was about to pitch it, he said, ‘I know you and we’ve talked. There is so much going on in this world that you never see in ‘The Name of the Wind,’ right?’ And I said, ‘Oh, yeah.’ And he’s like, ‘You’ve got whole countries, and all the religion and the myth and the secrets and the currencies and what monsters are in the woods in these other parts of the world. Like Modeg here, you’ve got all that figured out, right?’ And I said, ‘Oh yeah.’ And he said, ‘Does Kvothe ever go there?’ And I said, ‘No, no he doesn’t. Not in the trilogy.’
“So, he said, ‘I want to have a TV show with traveling performers that’s set a generation before and we see the world a generation before the events in ‘The Name of the Wind’ and we get to explore this world in a way that a movie never can. And we get to meet characters earlier on before Kvothe existed. Some of these older characters, we get to meet them. We’ll get to explore parts of the world that we’d never get to see otherwise. And we also get a lot of narrative freedom because we don’t have to worry about impinging on areas in the book or the movie.’ It was the smartest pitch I had ever heard and everyone jumped on it.”
Rothfuss Being Kvothe and the Future of Temerant
Rothfuss has been writing these books for more than 20 years now, and while he thinks he’s rubbed off a little on Kvothe, he believes Kvothe’s rubbed off on him more.
“I live in his mind, and I look out through his eyes, and I write in his voice,” Rothfuss said. “You can’t live in that headspace for that long without absorbing something. It’s so much more complicated than just, ‘Oh, there’s some of Pat Rothfuss in Kvothe.’ At this point, we’re kind of like a weird hybridized individual.”
While the third book, ‘The Doors of Stone,’ will be the final book in the Kingkiller Chronicle trilogy, Rothfuss is in no hurry to leave the world he’s created.
“I don’t have a plan of writing X number of books, but there are stories that I want to tell,” Rothfuss said. “I actually have one book that I sort of started, then stopped and it is set in Modeg. It’s the story of Laniel Young-Again. I would very much like to finish that book. There’s other little stories and vignettes and novellas … there’s a ton of stuff. I’m working on a comic with my friend Nate Taylor to do an illustrated version of the full story of The Boy That Loved the Moon. That’s nice because I’ve already written that and now Nate is just charging forward boldly and just blazing a trail with the art.
“So yeah, more stories in Temerant. I specifically made that world big enough so I can play in it for a long time.”