Steven Spielberg's West Side Story Remake Created a Brand New Role For Rita Moreno

Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story Remake Created a Brand New Role For Rita Moreno

West Side Story has found its leading man and created a brand new role for original cast member Rita Moreno, so count us as officially excited for Steven Spielberg’s forthcoming adaptation of the classic musical.

Ansel Elgort is the lucky actor who’s been cast to portray Tony in the Manhattan-set musical. The 24-year-old actor previously received critical acclaim for his role in 2017’s Baby Driver, but this will be his biggest role to date by far. As for Moreno, who won a best supporting actress Oscar for playing Anita in the original 1961 film, she’ll appear as Valentina, who is a “reconceived and expanded version of the character of Doc, the owner of the corner store in which Tony works.” Ned Glass played Doc opposite Moreno in the first film, so it will be interesting to see how she changes the character, especially since Moreno will also be listed as a producer on the film.

If you haven’t seen any iteration of the story on stage or the big screen, teenagers Tony and Maria are the protagonists of the tragic love story modeled after Romeo and Juliet. Tony is a former member of the American gang the Jets, which rivals the Puerto Rican gang the Sharks. Maria’s older brother is the leader of the Sharks, and thus enters the story’s central dilemma. Tony was first portrayed by Larry Kert in the original 1957 musical and later by Richard Beymer in the 1961 film.

The remake’s Maria has yet to be announced. Though Natalie Wood is famous for her impassioned portrayal of the star-crossed lover in the screen adaptation, the casting choice has since been met with criticism given that Wood was not Puerto Rican. With the modern remake in the works, the hope is that the same mistake is not repeated.

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