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Tick Tick Boom! The tragic true story of Andrew Garfield's character Jonathan Larson

Andrew Garfield portrays Jonathan in the new Netflix film

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Emmy Griffiths
TV & Film Editor
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Andrew Garfield has won over critics with his portrayal of the talented but struggling musical composer Jonathan Larson in the semi-autobiographical film Tick, Tick... Boom!, which was released on Netflix on Friday. But what happened to Jonathan in real life? Find out more about his life, and the bittersweet success of his hit musical Rent, here…

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Who was Jonathan Larson?

Jonathan Larson was a musical composer who famously wrote Rent. Tick Tick Boom is an autobiographical musical which he wrote detailing a time in his life where he is dreading turning 30 without having composed a successful musical, having spent eight years on a sci-fi rock musical, Superbia while working part-time at a diner.

WATCH: Are you going to watch the musical film?

He is torn between quitting his artistic, impoverished lifestyle completely and taking up a position in marketing or continuing to pursue his dreams.

Very sadly, Jonathan passed away aged 35 in the early hours of January 25 1996, the same day as Rent's first ever off-Broadway preview performance. He died from an aortic dissection, which was believed to have been caused by Marfan syndrome and would have been treatable if properly diagnosed. He was previously misdiagnosed as flu or stress. 

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Andrew plays Jonathan in the film

His final work went on to major success, receiving a 15-year run in Broadway, as well as winning a plethora of awards including three Tony Awards, a Pulitzer Prize and a Drama Desk Award.

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Speaking to Deadline about playing the late composer, Andrew said: "When I started to understand who Jonathan Larson was, it was as if Lin was re-introducing me to a long-lost brother I didn’t know I had, like an older brother I felt a kinship with. Someone who’s a revolutionary, someone who saw the heartbreak of the world around him and turned it into beauty."

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Tick Tick Boom! came out on Netflix on Fridau

In an essay about the film via The New York Times, director Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote: "Jonathan, if you can hear me, you fulfilled every promise and then some. We continue to perform your work, and when we do, someone else’s life is changed.

"Someone else has permission to tell their story because you told yours. Someone else has permission to dream as big as you did. Someone else will struggle to do his best with the time they have. Someone else will try to find the right words to thank you, thank you, thank you."

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