Jimmy Smits Uses Singing Scene in ‘NYPD Blue’ to Get ‘In the Heights’ Role

Looking back at how he landed the part of Kevin Rosario in the musical film, the Detective Bobby Simone depicter recalls putting together clips of hi singing Duke of Earl with co-star Dennis Franz.

AceShowbizJimmy Smits landed his role as Kevin Rosario in new movie musical “In the Heights” by offering up his Duke of Earl rendition from TV drama “NYPD Blue” as his audition tape.

Smits knew he’d have to prove he could sing and he thought his police car performance of the doo-wop classic with co-star Dennis Franz would impress.

“We were scrambling, putting together little video clips of me singing Duke of Earl with Dennis Franz in the squad car or a little song flourish in West Wing,” Jimmy told USA Today. “It wasn’t heavy lifting on the musical thing. But I still had to kind of convince them that I could do it.”

Jimmy ended up singing six lines during the new musical, but he wanted to give his very best performance.

“Even for six lines of musical interlude dialogue, there were four vocal coaches on two different coasts,” he shared. “If you haven’t done something since summer stock theater or high school productions, you want to be on point. Especially when you got all those powerhouse voices happening [sic].”

Director Jon M. Chu further recalled what Smits promised to bring into the musical adaptation. “He sat me down and said, ‘Jon, I’m going to be your Michelle Yeoh in this. I’m not going to be the enemy. I’m going to fill this role with love,’ ” he said as referring to Yeoh’s mother-in-law part in “Crazy Rich Asians“.

“And that’s exactly what this part is. This could have been done in so many villainous, flat ways,” the helmer continued explaining on Smits’ role as Rosario. “But he gave it so much love that you almost root for Kevin.”

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