Hamilton star explains meaning behind Eliza’s poignant and powerful gasp

(Image credit: Alamy Stock Photo)

Hamilton actress Phillipa Soo has opened up about the motivation behind one of the most iconic moments of the musical.

The star, who plays Eliza Hamilton, wife of the eponymous Alexander Hamilton, has explained the meaning behind the powerful gasp she closes the show with.

After a tumultuous two and half hours of portraying the story of the ‘ten-dollar founding father’, the cast turn to Phillipa who leads them to a poignant but somewhat cryptic ending.

And now Phillipa has opened up on the motivation behind the moment, speaking in an interview with SiriusXM’s The Jess Cagle Show that was posted online earlier this week.

“I would not be able to tell you precisely what I was thinking in that moment [in 2016] when that shot was taken and what exactly was going on in my brain,” said Phillipa.


“But I can say that it was definitely night-to-night different — but a mixture of, yes, the character of Eliza sees Hamilton or sees that legacy or sees the orphanage ... or sees her kids telling her story,” she went on. “It was an exploration for me every day, because you do a show eight times a week for a year and you find new things every single time.”

Phillipa went on to explain that sometimes the fourth wall (the invisible barrier between characters and audience) would break and that was what originally prompted the move.

“Once we got in front of an audience, it wasn’t until then that I realised I could literally just look out and see all of these beautiful faces and acknowledge the story that we had just all taken a ride to witness,” she explained.

She also touched on the specific gasp shown in the Disney+ version that launched earlier this month, saying, “I can imagine in my mind, because we shot the film a couple of weeks before I had left the show, that a lot of that that you’re seeing is not only that show or that performance.

"But it’s that year and that moment in time and the hope and the potential that lived in that moment when we were all in that room and seeing that show and being a part of it”.

Aleesha Badkar
Digital Beauty Editor, woman&home

Aleesha is Digital Beauty Editor at woman&home, where she gets to share her expertise into all the best techniques, sharpest tools and newest products—with a particular savvy in skincare and fragrance.

Previously, she was Deputy Editor and Beauty & Fashion Editor for My Imperfect Life, where she headed up the beauty, fashion and eCommerce pages. In the past, she has worked as Shopping Writer at woman&home, gained an AOP awards nomination after working on their news team, contributed to Women's Health, Stylist and Goodto and earned an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London.