Andrew Garfield works at his desk in a crowded sunlit room. The walls are lined with books, CDs, and colorful posters.Garfield sits in a green and wood chair and leans back. Near his right knee is a bust of a woman's top.

The Apartment: tick, tick . . . BOOM!

The musical film recreates Jonathan Larson's New York City apartment with astonishing likeness.

19 January 20221 min Read

For anyone who lived in New York City in the early 1990s, especially anywhere south of Houston Street, the sets that comprise Jonathan Larson’s apartment in tick, tick . . . BOOM! are a startlingly accurate recreation of what an artist’s life looked like then.

To achieve this verisimilitude, production designer Alex DiGerlando called on more than just his own recollections of living in Manhattan during that era, though that helped: “I have vivid memories of what the city was like, and it was much different — it was rougher around the edges,” DiGerlando says. “It was a very bohemian neighborhood with lots of different artists from different fields back then.”

What were truly indispensable were the photos and videos Larson and his friends and family took of his apartment at 508 Greenwich Street, some of which now sit in the Library of Congress as official documentation of his home. “We had this treasure trove of photographs of parties and events that he threw in his apartment,” DiGerlando says. “The shower curtain you see in the bathtub in the kitchen is a replica of something we saw in a photo from one of the parties. All the audio cassettes you see on the wall are all in his real handwriting. There are countless details like that.” Larson’s loved ones also provided actual pieces of art and furniture.

This deeply specific knowledge of Larson’s actual living quarters not only helped DiGerlando, but it also informed the work of tick, tick . . . BOOM! screenwriter Steven Levenson, whose carefully crafted scenes reflected Larson’s life and surroundings. “[His sister] Julie Larson had this home video that Jon had taken of his entire apartment for insurance purposes, so we knew exactly what every inch of his apartment looked like, down to every book on his shelf.”