West Side Story: High school student cast as Maria in Spielberg remake

16 January, 2019, 01:17 | Author: Courtney Perry
  • YouTube  Rachel Zegler

Steven Spielberg has cast an unknown high school student in the lead role of his upcoming West Side Story remake.

Valentina is described as "a reconceived version" of the character of Doc, the owner of the shop where West Side Story's leading male character Tony works. She submitted a video of herself singing two songs from the musical, "Tonight" and "Me Siento Hermosa" ("I Feel Pretty").

Zegler answered an open call for audition tapes that was placed in January of past year, following an announcement from the production that they would be exploring alternative casting avenues within the Puerto Rican and Latinx communities to find the right actors for the film.

Zegler wrote about it on Instagram Monday, saying in part, "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".

Speaking about landing the role Rachel said she is thrilled to be playing the iconic role.

Filming on West Side Story is due to begin this summer.


"I simply can not wait to get on set to work with this group of young actors", said Moreno, who won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role as Anita in the 1961 film.

Zegler, 17, will star as the Puerto Rican girl who falls in love with white New Yorker Tony in the Romeo and Juliet-inspired musical with music by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim.

Maria was played by Natalie Wood in the 1961 movie and her singing voice was later dubbed by Marni Nixon for most of the musical numbers.

"I send a huge thank you to everyone who helped make this incredible dream a reality - I never could've done it alone", she continued, calling out the cast members whom she is "so honored" to work alongside "in telling this impeccably poignant story".

Spielberg's adaptation of the film is set to start production this summer.

Screenwriter Tony Kushner has said that the new movie will take its cues from the original 1957 Broadway musical, rather than the film, and that all of the classic songs will be included. "West Side Story" won 10 Oscars, including best picture.

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