A fresh new face will be playing a classic role in Steven Spielberg’s remake of the 1961 musical West Side Story.
Image Via Variety
The role of Maria, the titular love interest of the story, will be played by newcomer Rachel Zegler in her first film role. Zegler was one of 30,000 Latina actresses to audition for the role of Maria.
Zegler has stated that she is honored to play the role of Maria in a film, having previously portrayed her in a school play.
“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.”
The news comes as the other film’s stars have also been announced. Tony, Maria’s love interest, will be portrayed by Ansel Elgort, the star of Baby Driver. The roles of Bernardo, Maria’s brother, and Anita, Bernardo’s girlfriend, will be portrayed by Broadway veterans Ariana DeBose and David Alvarez, respectively. Hamilton performer Josh Andres Rivera has been case as Chino, Maria’s would-be suitor. Rita Moreno, one of the film’s original stars who won an Oscar for her performance as Anita, will return in a new role and also serve as executive producer.
Image Via Deadline
The casting of mostly Latino and Latina actors was important for Spielberg and screenwriter Tony Kushner. The original film has been accused on whitewashing over the years since its release. Most notably the casting of Natalie Wood, a white actress, in the role of Maria. Spielberg said that he is proud of the diverse group of actors who were cast in the film.
“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. I’m so happy that we’ve assembled a cast that reflects the astonishing depth of talent in America’s multifaceted Hispanic community.”
The film is set to start filming this summer.
Featured Image Via ComingSoon.net