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

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(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.

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“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
Aleesha Badkar

Aleesha is digital shopping writer at woman&home - so whether you're looking for beauty, fashion, health or home buys, she knows all the best places to splash your cash. She earned an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London in 2017 after graduating from University of Leeds in 2014 with a BA in English and Spanish (which took her to Madrid for a fun Rioja and tapas-packed year). Aleesha has worked for woman&home since 2019, when she joined the team as their digital news writer. A year on the news team gained her quick and reactive writing skills and a love for breaking stories, invaluable insight into where to get the best lifestyle releases first, an AOP awards nomination and the nickname ‘crazy watch lady’ after she became so obsessed with the royals that she followed breaking news alerts on her Apple Watch.


Before joining the woman&home team, Aleesha wrote for their sister site GoodtoKnow, where she covered celebrity news, health advice and where to snap up the cheapest lifestyle buys. With a background in beauty, Aleesha has also written for Stylist and Women’s Health where she developed an understanding into what makes a stellar product and which brands are worth paying attention to. She never leaves the house without a slick of lip balm and a good slathering of SPF, cannot live without an eyelash curler by her side and is always on the hunt for new lipsticks to add to her ‘Lipstick of the Day’ Instagram story highlight (and color-coordinated collection).

But it’s not just beauty buys Aleesha can help you with. Social media savviness, strong PR relationships and a need to stay in the know mean she’s all about the latest fashions, clever gadgets and reliable lifestyle buys too. She loves indulging in an interior craze (with a bedroom drowned in prints, plants and pink), is a regular visitor to the Missoma and Edge of Ember 'New In' pages and can’t resist the allure of a kitchen gadget—just ask her three coffee machines.

When she’s not playing around with new products and testing anything she can get her hands on, Aleesha spends most of her time with her head in a current bestseller, catching up on the latest Netflix craze with her sister, trying out new recipes, drinking wine with her bestie and (in non-COVID times) has been known to be a bit of a jetsetter amongst her friendship group. Oh and she makes the most of her Disney+ subscription by watching the Marvel films on repeat (definitely not just for Chris Evans...).

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