‘West Side Story’ remake casts 17-year-old newcomer as Maria

Remember the name Rachel Zegler, because she just managed to achieve every theatre kid's dream: doing a production of West Side Story in high school, and then actually getting to make West Side Story on film.

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While the movie will mark Zegler's onscreen debut, she has played Maria before on stage - an "iconic role" she is "humbled" to reprise on the silver screen, she told Deadline.

"West Side Story" - a heartfelt, New York City-centric updating of Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet", with music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by a 26-year-old Stephen Sondheim - was first performed on Broadway in 1957.

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".

'I am so thrilled to be playing the iconic role of Maria alongside this awesome cast, ' Rachel said in a statement to Deadline.

"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", Spielberg said.

Ansel Elgort has been cast as her love interest in the adaptation of the 1957 Broadway musical that retells "Romeo and Juliet" with NY street gangs. Moreno previously won an Oscar for her portrayal of Anita in the 1961 film version of the musical.

Ansel Elgort will play Tony in the remake of West Side Story.

She beat out 30,000 wannabes to land the role. (Moreno has an expanded role in this remake as well, this time as a different character.) David Alvarez, who won a Tony for his work in Billy Elliott: The Musical, is playing Bernardo, Maria's brother and the leader of the Sharks.

17-year-old Rachel Zegler has been cast as Maria.

Zegler joins a quartet of Latinx actors who will be playing key members of the Sharks, with three other members being portrayed by Broadway stars: Tony victor David Alvarez will play Maria's brother Bernardo, Tony nominee Ariana DeBose will play Anita, and Josh Andres Rivera will play Chino.

Filming is expected to begin in the summer of 2019.

  • Marlene Weaver