West Side Story, the iconic 1961 movie-turned-hit-Broadway musical, is getting its own remake. We know, it’s a bold move to recreate such a classic. But before you roll your eyes, fear not. It is in the safe hands of critically-acclaimed director Steven Spielberg – the man who gave us everything from Indiana Jones and E.T to Jurassic Park and The Colour Purple – meaning there’s a strong chance it’ll be everything we want it to be.
What’s the plot of West Side Story?
Set in the late fifties, West Side Story – which is a modern retelling of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet – tells the story of rival gangs the white American Jets and the Puerto Rican Sharks, who go head to head to win control of a neighbourhood on Manhattan’s West Side. Speilberg, who has been working on the remake for over a year now, has officially announced the key cast members for the upcoming movie.
Who are the cast?
Divergent and Baby Driver star Ansel Elgort has been cast as Tony (originally played by Richard Beymer) while the role of Marie (originally played by Natalie Wood, who won an Oscar for her performance) has been given to 17-year-old high School student Rachel Zegler, who was given the role after an open casting call that saw more than 30,000 women audition for the role around the world.
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when i played maria on stage a few summers ago, i never could have imagined that i’d be taking on the role again in steven spielberg’s ‘west side story’. i send a huge thank you to everyone who helped make this incredible dream a reality— i never could’ve done it alone. i am so honored to join the legendary @TheRitaMoreno, @ansel, @arianadebose, @davidalvarezofficial, @joshandresrivera and more in telling this impeccably poignant story. as a colombian-american woman growing up in this day and age, strong roles like maria are so important. to be able to bring that role to life— a role that means so much to the hispanic community— is so humbling. i hope you’re all as excited as i am. ♥️✨
Ariana DeBose has also been cast as Marie’s best friend Anita (originally played by Rita Moreno, who will also be making an appearance in Speilberg’s version), meanwhile David Alvarez has landed the role of Bernardo, Marie’s older brother, and theatre performer Josh Andrés Rivera has been cast as Chino, her arranged fiancé.
Talking about the film, which is currently in pre-production stages, Spielberg told Deadline: ‘When we began this process a year ago, we announced that we would cast the roles of Maria, Anita, Bernardo, Chino and the Sharks with Latina and Latino actors.’
He continued: ‘I’m so happy that we’ve assembled a cast that reflects the astonishing depth of talent in America’s multifaceted Hispanic community. I am in awe of the sheer force of the talent of these young performers, and I believe they’ll bring a new and electrifying energy to a magnificent musical that’s more relevant than ever.’
Similarly, Zelger, who is set to make her Hollywood debut said: ‘I am so thrilled to be playing the iconic role of Maria alongside this amazing cast. ‘West Side Story’ was the first musical I encountered with a Latina lead character. As a Colombian-American, I am humbled by the opportunity to play a role that means so much to the Hispanic community.’
When will it air?
No air date for the new version of West Side Story has been confirmed yet, but it has been confirmed that filming is set to begin this summer.