Lin-Manuel Miranda said it was an easy decision to say yes to starring in the TV adaptation of His Dark Materials.
Miranda was joined by his co-stars Dafne Keen, James McAvoy and Ruth Wilson for a panel at Comic-Con in San Diego on Friday.
The Hamilton creator will play adventurer Lee Scoresby in the series, which is an adaption of Sir Philip Pullman’s trilogy of novels and is a joint production between the BBC and US cable network HBO.
Miranda revealed he was working on Mary Poppins Returns in London when His Dark Materials executive producer Jane Tranter and writer Jack Thorne offered him the part.
Miranda said: “They said ‘His Dark Materials’ and I said ‘yes’. I didn’t even know what the part was, I would have sharpened pencils for this.”
He said he is a huge fan of the books and read them with his wife when they started dating. “They have a really special place in my heart”, Miranda added.
Tranter was asked why she decided to adapt His Dark Materials for television, after it has already been adapted for radio and film.
She said: “I like a challenge, I thought it was time for the books to be liberated in a space which could do them justice.”
Tranter, who was behind the BBC’s hugely successful revival of Doctor Who, said the many adaptations of His Dark Materials “have been brilliant in their own ways”, but the “real estate of television” has changed.
“I just felt it was time”, Tranter added.
British-Spanish actress Keen, 14, takes a starring role as Lyra, while McAvoy plays her uncle, Lord Asriel. Wilson stars as the evil Mrs Coulter.
His Dark Materials takes place in a fantasy world where human souls take the form of animals, called Deamons in the books.
Sir Philip’s trilogy – consisting of The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass – were controversial upon release due to their strong criticism of organised religion, with the author once describing them as being about “killing God”.
The Golden Compass was adapted for film in 2007 starring Daniel Craig and Nicole Kidman but was panned by critics.
His Dark Materials will be released in late 2019. Comic-Con is now in its 50th year and was established in San Diego.
It is one of the biggest dates in the entertainment industry diary and regularly hosts major reveals from Hollywood studios.