‘Snowpiercer’: The Surprising Way It Reminded Daveed Diggs of ‘Hamilton’

Daveed Diggs stars in the TNT version of Snowpiercer, based on Parasite director Bong Joon Ho’s 2013 film. Both the show and the movie are set in a frozen future in which the last survivors of humanity live aboard a train that never stops moving. In the film, Chris Evans played a lower class rebel who leads a revolt to the 1% at the front of the train. 

Daveed Diggs
Daveed Diggs | Amy Sussman/Getty Images

In TNT’s series, Diggs plays a man from the tail of the train rising up. Jennifer Connelly, Alison Wright and Mickey Sumner also star. Diggs was on a panel with show runner Graeme Manson and his costars for the Television Critics Association on January 15 in which he compared the long journey of Snowpiercer to that of his hit Broadway musical Hamilton. Snowpiercer premieres May 31 at 9 p.m. on TBS.

Daveed Diggs stayed with ‘Snowpiercer’ for years

TNT’s adaptation of Snowpiercer began in 2015 when Tomorrow Studios optioned the rights to the film and the 1982 French graphic novel on which the film was based. Doctor Strange director Scott Derrickson shot a pilot for the show in 2017 and TNT expected to air it in 2018. 

Then TNT decided to reshoot the pilot, and Derrickson did not return for reshoots. They also replaced original showrunner Josh Friedman with Orphan Blacks Graeme Mason. The new version will finally air in 2020. Daveed Diggs just rolled with all the changes. 

“It takes a really long time to make really good sh*t,” Diggs said.

‘Hamilton’ took a long time too

Everyone thinks of Hamilton as a success now, but Daveed Diggs was involved with it when no one had heard of it. They were trying it out on stage and wondering if people were going to like it. So when Snowpiercer had problems, Diggs just thought that was the process of fixing them. 

Hamilton's Daveed Diggs
Daveed Diggs | Daniel Zuchnik/WireImage

“I’m from a theatre world,” Diggs said. “Five years is not long to develop a new piece of theatre if you want it to be any good. So I don’t know. Like, this, like, ‘Oh, my God, it took five years.‘ It’s just five years, guys.”

Reshooting the ‘Snowpiercer’ pilot didn’t phase Daveed Diggs either

Daveed Diggs filmed the pilot with Scott Derrickson. Then he filmed it again with director James Hawes. To Diggs, that’s also akin to theater where you retool the show after the first few performances.

“That’s what I’m saying,” Diggs said. “You have previews, and you change everything.”

Daveed Diggs
Daveed Diggs | Jeff Kravitz/Getty Images for WarnerMedia

Diggs had faith in Hamilton from the beginning too, but that still didn’t guarantee the audience would agree.

“I knew it was really good from jump because it was really good but, like, a thing being good and being successful are two different things,” Diggs said.

The people also kept Daveed Diggs engaged with ‘Snowpiercer’

Daveed Diggs added that it wasn’t just the process of improving Snowpiercer that kept him coming back. He also didn’t want to give up working with his costars and collaborators.

“I love this group of people,” Diggs said. “We haven’t seen each other for a few weeks, and I’m so just giddy to be around these guys again that that’s really the thing for me in a day-to-day way, like, keeps me coming back.”