Since Hamilton debuted on Disney+ last week, there’s been much debate over the Tony-winning musical. Some have questioned the role women play in the story, and considered if the show passes the Bechdel test, while others have wrestled with its veneration for the founding fathers, many of whom were enslavers and men who otherwise benefitted from the slave trade.
But today we aren’t going to get into those complicated, important discussions. Nope, we’re talking about spit, and more specifically, about King George III’s spit.
Now that the public at large can stream Hamilton in 4k from the comfort of their own homes, people have started to notice the excessive saliva of Jonathan Groff, who plays King George III. I’ll spare you the gifs here, but just search “jonathan groff spit” on Twitter, and well, memes abound.
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Even the show’s creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda got in on the conversation, teasing: “Everyone get your raincoats, #Groffsauce is here!” and “King George’s spit drool is truly transgressive in 2020, mercy me.”
But why is there so much spit?
A popular narrative on Twitter is that Groff drinks water backstage so he will spit during the performance, invoking George III’s mania.
“i’m seeing lots of people coming at jonathan groff for spitting a lot when he was singing. he put water in his mouth before coming on stage in order to salivate more, thus portraying king george’s mental insanity, thanks for coming to my ted talk,” wrote one fan on social media.
And there does seem to be at least some historical evidence that the King would spit when he talked. Per the BBC, researchers into the monarch’s mental state “spoke of his ‘incessant loquacity’ and his habit of talking until the foam ran out of his mouth.”
But Groff is known for spitting in other roles too, so this could just be him really getting into the performance. When asked about his propensity to spit in 2009, he said:
“I don’t know what it is. I guess I have a lot of saliva in my mouth. I actually don’t think about it too much, unless I’m in a good scene with someone and I can see it hitting their face.”
It’s something he’s dealt with for his entire career. “I spit a lot onstage,” Groff told Variety in 2019. “I’ve always been a spitter… I start sweating. I just get wet when I perform onstage. It is just what happens.”
Stream Hamilton on Disney+
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