Steven Spielberg Is Remaking West Side Story, & Fans Have Strong Opinions About It
Something’s coming… something good! West Side Story, to be exact. Late on Monday night, we learned via The Hollywood Reporter that acclaimed director Steven Spielberg is bringing the beloved musical back to the big screen with an upcoming adaptation.
So far, Spielberg’s adaptation boasts some pretty impressive pedigree. Oscar-nominated screenwriter and Pulitzer Prize-winner Tony Kushner wrote the latest adaptation, which was originally written by Arthur Laurents and Stephen Sondheim. Also, Tony Award-winning choreographer Justin Peck, who serves as the New York City Ballet's resident choreographer, will be lending his considerable skills.
In the same THR report from Monday evening, we also learned the first official casting news attached to Spielberg’s West Side Story adaptation: Baby Driver star Ansel Elgort is set to play the male lead. Elgort has reportedly been tapped to play Tony (originally played by Larry Kert in the iconic 1957 Broadway musical and by Richard Beymer in the 1961 film), meaning he’s about to sing and dance his way right into fans’ hearts.
Luckily, we already know Elgort has the musical chops required to pull this role off. Prior to his breakout performance in 2014’s The Fault in Our Stars, the entertainer was well-known on the electronic dance music scene as “Ansolo.” In January, he released the single “Supernova" and has previous hits like "Thief" that have helped established him as a recording artist.
Of course, anytime such a beloved piece of pop culture history gets rebooted, the internet has opinions, and not even Spielberg gets a pass. At this point, the public response to the new West Side Story seems to be mixed. There are those who feel as though an adaptation is unnecessary.
Then there are those who are here for Elgort’s casting.
Along with those who think casting Elgort as Tony is a travesty.
And then there seems to be a solid contingency of people who are most concerned with who else might be cast in the new version.
Per THR, Spielberg has spent the better part of a year searching for Spanish-speaking actors to fill out the Puerto Rican roles from the original musical/book. The director reportedly feels strongly about casting the movie in an “ethnically authentic manner.” Given his attention to the casting details, we're still unsure who is being considered for the coveted roles of Maria (portrayed in the 1961 film by Natalie Wood), Anita (portrayed by EGOT-winner Rita Moreno), Chino, Riff, Bernardo and beyond.
Spielberg’s West Side Story is reportedly set to start filming in 2019.