Director Steven Spielberg’s remake of the 1960’s movie-musical “West Side Story”, has found its Maria after a nationwide search for the main lead in this iconic film. 17 year-old High school student, Rachel Zegler, responded to an open casting call for Latinx actresses. Rachel beat over 30,000 other girls who were trying out for the same role. This time around, Spielberg is making it a point to cast Latinx actors in their appropriate roles unlike in the 1960’s version of the movie which is considered “white-washed”.
The movie is a Romeo and Juliet type of love affair set in 1960’s New York with rival gangs always budding heads with one another. So far in the production actor Ansel Elgort has been casted as Maria’s love interest, Tony, and Rita Moreno, who played the role of Anita in the older version of the movie, is now casted to play the role of Valentina in the new adaptation.
Along with these talents are Broadway veterans Ariana Debose, who will play Anita, David Alvarez as Bernardo, and Josh Andres Rivera as Chino. Also, actress Rita Moreno , will now play the character of Doc who owns a corner store in Maria’s neighborhood. Rachel Zegler says how she is, “…so thrilled to be playing the iconic role of Maria alongside this amazing cast.” Rachel already played Maria on stage before and is enormously excited to get started playing the role on the silver screen. She also adds how, “West Side Story was the first musical I encountered with a latina lead character…As a Columbian-American, I am humbled by the opportunity to play a role that means so much to the hispanic community.”
From celebrities like Lily Collins to Darren Criss, Zegler is getting much praise from Hollywood’s elite for getting this iconic role. Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of this movie-musical will start filming in the summer of 2019. In the time being, the crew will start the pre- production activities and rehearsing. Since this film won over ten Oscars during the 1961 award ceremony, Spielberg is probably looking for a similar response to this film as well.