"West Facet Story": Steven Spielberg, Ansel Elgort & Extra!

No must overlook the previous West Facet Story, however this is one other!

Sixty years after the big-screen musical first snapped, twirled and mamboed its method into theaters, a brand new model has arrived, the story of affection virtually discovering a method amid a prejudice-fueled blood feud as well timed as ever and the music as enduring because it will get.

The 1961 unique's 10 Academy Awards, together with Finest Image, rating by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim however, Steven Spielberg's 2021 launch brings the story, if not into the 21st century, then right into a extra difficult 1950s New York than moviegoers have been offered with the primary time. 

In screenwriter Tony Kushner's adaptation of Arthur Laurent's groundbreaking 1957 musical, which notably introduced up to date social points to the Broadway stage, a quickly altering Higher West Facet is squeezing out each the Jets and the Sharks as their imply streets are bulldozed to make room for future cultural landmarks like Lincoln Middle (the place the movie's premiere was held, by the way). However deep-rooted suspicion—of one another, of authority and anybody who tries to increase an olive department—retains them on reverse sides of the dance ground. 

Until they're coming collectively to combat.

From their respective corners and into this tinderbox stroll Tony, a tender-hearted former Jet, and Maria, a Puerto Rican immigrant whose massive brother Bernardo is head of the Sharks. They're immediately smitten however, whereas they're busy dreaming of a future collectively away from all of the hate, they inadvertently set off a tragic chain of Romeo and Juliet-inspired occasions.

United Artists/Zuma Press; Twentieth Century Fox

Spielberg—directing his first-ever musical—sought to proper a few of the extra evident indignities in his movie's predecessor, together with the dearth of Hispanic actors populating the Sharks' aspect and the truth that future EGOT winner Rita Moreno, who really is Puerto Rican, was put in make-up to make her pores and skin look darker as Anita, Bernardo's girlfriend and Maria's greatest pal.

Talking to Parade not too long ago, Moreno, an government producer on the brand new film and part of the solid in a job written together with her in thoughts, referred to as the script "splendidly improved" and the story itself "extra related than ever."

Spielberg informed E! Information on the Nov. 29 premiere, the movie's launch delayed a full 12 months as a result of pandemic, "It took a couple of 12 months to search out all of the solid, tapes got here in from 35,000 people auditioning for Maria, Tony, Anita and Bernardo. Sarcastically, the second particular person I noticed on my first day of casting, was Rachel [Zegler]." Ansel Elgort, starring as Tony reverse Zegler's Maria, referred to as the expertise "magical," telling Entertainment Tonight in 2019, when manufacturing was ongoing, "It has been a dream working with one of the best folks within the enterprise. We're having numerous enjoyable and pushing ourselves. It has been actually nice."

In honor of each movies, this is a have a look at the 1961 solid vs. Spielberg's model, a brand new era within the driver's seat of this traditional journey:

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Richard Beymer/Ansel Elgort as Tony

Elgort does his personal singing because the boy who simply met a woman named Maria, in contrast to his predecessor, whose vocals have been equipped by crooner Jimmy Bryant—a reasonably normal little bit of film magic when the studio's desired face did not match the mandatory pipes.

"The songs are nice, although I could not sing them completely immediately," Elgort admitted throughout a Nov. 30 appearance on E!'s Daily Pop. "However that is good, something that is a problem is nice, proper? It is price it."

Beymer—who began out as a toddler actor on TV within the 1940s—co-starred in 1959's The Diary of Anne Frank earlier than touchdown the position of Tony, which led to him sharing the 1962 Golden Globe for New Star of the Yr with Bobby Darin and Warren Beatty (who additionally had a doomed onscreen romance with Natalie Wooden in Splendor within the Grass, one other 1961 launch). Speaking to the Los Angeles Occasions a long time later, Beymer stated he thought he "got here out ridiculous" in West Facet Story and, regardless of a number of extra plum roles in massive footage, he had soured on Hollywood by the mid-1960s and turned his consideration to civil rights activism within the South. He continued to behave in quirky movies ("I by no means left the films, I simply made totally different varieties of films," he informed the Occasions) and on TV, and one other devoted fan base is aware of him as Ben Horne on Twin Peaks.

Elgort stated on The Late Late Present With James Corden that he'd needed to be a performer ever since his dad and mom took him to see Oklahoma on Broadway when he was 4. The native New Yorker additionally recalled Stephen Sondheim's recommendation when the present's legendary lyricist, who simply died Nov. 26, visited the manufacturing. They ended up in an elevator alone collectively after what Elgort deemed a failed recording session on his half, when Sondheim turned to him and stated, "'Crucial factor a younger performer can have is confidence.'"


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Natalie Wooden/Rachel Zegler as Maria

Earlier than being solid as Maria, beating out 30,000 different aspiring star-crossed lovers, Zegler had starred in all the large musicals—in numerous highschool and native theater productions in her native New Jersey. Stephen Spielberg found her by means of his open casting name for the position, the then-16-year-old (whose mom is of Colombian descent) posting movies of herself singing "I Really feel Fairly" and "Tonight." 

Zegler graduated from highschool in 2019 and started working, West Facet Story marking her function movie debut—in contrast to Wooden, who'd been performing since she was Four and co-starred in 1947's Miracle on 34th Road when she was 8.

Already Academy Award-nominated for 1957's Insurgent And not using a Trigger, Wooden was a controversial choose for Maria (she's not Hispanic and Marni Nixon did all of the singing), although her spirited efficiency could not assist however allure. She did not account for any of West Facet Story's 11 Oscar nominations, however she was nonetheless up for Finest Actress that 12 months for her heart-wrenching flip as a lovelorn highschool scholar who suffers a nervous breakdown in Splendor within the Grass. She additionally starred within the 1962 big-screen adaptation of Gypsy (extra lyrics by Sondheim) and she notched one other Oscar nomination for 1963's Love With the Correct Stranger.

Wooden continued to behave for the remainder of her tragically abbreviated life. After remarrying first husband Robert Wagner in 1972, the mom of two (together with actress daughter Natasha Gregson Wagner) drowned in 1981 off the coast of California's Catalina Island and the circumstances of her death are nonetheless being probed to this present day, most not too long ago in her sister Lana Wooden's 2021 e book, Little Sister: My Investigation Into the Mysterious Dying of Natalie Wooden.

With all eyes on her, Zegler is signed up to play Snow White in Disney's deliberate live-action remake, co-starring Gal Gadot because the Evil Queen.

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Rita Moreno/Ariana DeBose as Anita

"The 2 Anitas," Moreno raved to Parade about watching DeBose tackle the screen-commanding position of Anita, Maria's pragmatic confidante and the love of ill-fated Bernardo. "It was bizarre and unusual and great. And he or she's marvelous. She's a ferocious dancer. Means higher than I used to be."

Very gracious to say, however Moreno received the Finest Supporting Actress Oscar for her efficiency, the primary Hispanic actress to win an Academy Award, on her option to turning into an Emmy, Grammy and Tony winner as properly. Her most up-to-date splash got here enjoying household matriarch Lydia within the acclaimed reboot of One Day at Time.

DeBose, who's of Puerto Rican descent on her father's aspect, competed within the High 20 on So You Assume You Can Dance in 2009 and she or he made her Broadway debut in Carry It On: The Musical in 2012. She was a member of the unique Broadway ensemble of Hamilton when it premiered in 2015, co-starred in A Bronx Story: The Musical, was nominated for a Tony for the 2018 Donna Summer time jukebox musical Summer time and appeared within the Netflix musical Promenade.

She was getting her nails performed when she bought the decision from Spielberg, and when he "asks you to be a part of one thing like this," she recalled to the Daily Mail, "it's one thing you always remember, due to the journey I've had."

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George Chakiris/David Alvarez as Bernardo

The Greek-American Chakiris—who first performed Jets chief Riff within the West Finish manufacturing of West Facet Story—received the Finest Supporting Actor Oscar for his piercing efficiency as Maria's over-protective brother and Anita's boyfriend, who additionally occurs to be the chief of the Sharks, the arch-enemies of the Jets. Which means Tony, too, by no means thoughts his sister's pleas that he isn't like the remainder of them. Tragedy ensues.

However in actual life, Chakiris went on to extra stage and display work and is the godfather of Moreno's daughter Fernanda. "We turned extraordinarily shut [on set]," Moreno informed Parade. "He and I and a woman named Yvonne Wilder. Yvonne was one of many Shark women and was hysterical. So the three of us turned the Puerto Rican mafia. Though George was Greek. We laughed so laborious. We had such time."

Bernardo's jazz sneakers are on good ft, with Alvarez already a Tony winner at 14 for his flip (upon flip) as Billy Elliot. After performing within the firm of On the City, nevertheless, he joined the Military, the place "nobody knew I used to be a dancer or an actor or a singer," he explained on the Just for Variety podcast. "I felt like I needed to be like everybody else in my platoon. I needed to simply be a soldier and I did not need to be handled any in a different way or considered any in a different way. I simply needed to be one of many group."

Then he went to varsity to review philosophy, however a casting director tracked him down in 2018 whereas he was backpacking in Mexico. The message, he recalled: "'Hey, Steven Spielberg's making West Facet Story. We'd like to see a self-tape from you for the position of Bernardo.'"

Alvarez additionally simply co-starred within the Showtime restricted sequence American Rust and West Facet Story marks his function movie debut.

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Russ Tamblyn/Mike Faist as Riff

That is Amber Tamblyn's veteran actor dad because the charismatic chief of the Jets and Tony's greatest pal—aka the Mercutio position, and we all know what occurs to him.

An Oscar nominee for 1957's Peyton Place, Tamblyn additionally began out as a toddler performer (he is Elizabeth Taylor's little brother within the unique Father of the Bride) and made his film musical debut in 1954's Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (although Tucker Smith, who performed a fellow Jet named Ice, sang Riff's strains within the gang's traditional opening quantity). 

A star of quite a few cult-classic movies and a go-to character actor after his big-studio work dried up within the 1960s, Tamblyn additionally performed Dr. Jacoby on Twin Peaks (reuniting with Beymer) within the 1980s and within the 2017 revival, and most not too long ago confirmed up in Django Unchained and on Netflix's The Haunting of Hill Home.

Faist obtained a Tony nomination for enjoying Connor Murphy, the boy whose suicide is on the middle of the drama in Pricey Evan Hanson, and whereas he is been in a number of indie movies and stars on the Amazon Prime sequence Panic, West Facet Story is his first huge big-screen manufacturing.

"I put collectively a tape, after which they stated, 'We would like you to return again in and dance,'" he recalled of the audition process to the New York Times. "I used to be like, 'Is there any method you may not have me dance?' They have been like: 'What are you speaking about? That is West Facet Story!' The one saving grace is that [choreographer] Justin Peck and I've related physique varieties: tall, nothing however legs and arms. They'd their work reduce out for them with a purpose to get me as much as snuff."

And, Faist shared, "Possibly that is so pretentious, however West Facet was every little thing I had ever hoped to perform as an actor. It is actually loopy, nevertheless it was transcendental: both I did not really feel like I used to be myself, or I used to be probably the most genuine model of myself. I am unable to actually inform which one."

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Jose De Vega/Josh Andrés Rivera as Chino

Maria's scorned fiancé (a reluctant promise quite than a love match on her half) was extra of a caricature of a hot-headed Puerto Rican gang member in 1961, so Rivera had an opportunity to make Chino extra of a fleshed-out character.

Each motion pictures, nevertheless, function a newcomer (to the large display and IMDb) within the position. 

De Vega, who died in 1990, was additionally a dancer and choreographer and stored performing all through his life, the Filipino-American performer's closing credit score a 1987 episode of Dynasty

"In numerous methods this expertise has been so unbelievable," a beaming Rivera stated in an on-set interview launched by 20th Century Studios, "type of constructing this household with the Sharks virtually seems like getting so in contact with my roots, my heritage...They remind me of my household in numerous methods. I do not know, they're simply wily and hilarious, and simply, like, loud." He laughed. "I adore it, it is improbable, it makes me really feel so at residence."

United Artists; Ramona Rosales/Twentieth Century Fox

Susan Oakes/Iris Menas as Anybodys

Menas, who identifies as nonbinary, takes over as Anybodys, who in 1961 was a tomboy who has no use for girly nonsense and desires so badly to be taken severely by the Jets (who ridicule her consistently and snipe at her to "go put on a skirt"). Spielberg and screenwriter Tony Kushner retooled the half to make the character clearly trans.

"He is type of been disowned by his household and is on the lookout for a house, basically," Menas, who beforehand appeared on Broadway in Jagged Little Capsule, shared in a studio interview. "He is sleeping on the streets and he is been following the Jets intently...We see this type of misplaced soul hoping to affix this gang of brothers, not solely to be accepted right into a household...however to be accepted for who they're as an individual and accepted in their very own pores and skin."

West Facet Story was Oakes' solely film, and after a number of TV appearances she left performing behind in 1964.

Within the 2021 movie's manufacturing notes, David Saint, executor of the property of Arthur Laurent, who wrote the unique e book for West Facet Story, noticed, "Arthur was forward of his time with this. Anybodys is a personality who was a person born in a feminine's physique.' Finish of story. If it have been immediately, he can be a transgender." Defined casting director Cindy Toland, "We had numerous conversations about it and determined this position might be performed greatest by a trans particular person."

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Ned Glass as Doc/Rita Moreno as Valentina

The position of Tony's variety, involved boss on the soda store has been handed on to Doc's widow, Valentina, who's seen an excessive amount of to be solely optimistic about her younger worker's long-term probabilities for happiness with Maria.

"No. 1, it is a gorgeous title," Moreno, who's additionally an government producer on the movie, informed Parade of her new West Facet Story character. "No. 2, she has an in depth relationship with Tony, the lead. It's extremely, very totally different than the connection that Doc had with the children. And there may be one main shock with Valentina that after all I am not going to expose, nevertheless it's a doozy. Valentina is an excellent character, she's loving, she's heat. She's nothing like Anita in any respect. She is unquestionably an older girl. And it has been the enjoyment of my life to play her. I couldn't imagine it when Steven referred to as me, after which I talked to Tony Kushner. Apparently, Tony was a giant fan of the [original] film and prompt me to Steven."

However she wasn't excited by only a wink-wink cameo. "Taking part in a cameo whenever you've been a lead is only a distraction," she defined. "All you are doing is distracting folks. Oh, look who's there? [Spielberg] stated, 'No, no, no, no, no, no, it isn't a cameo. It is an actual half.' I stated, 'OK, then I want to learn the script.' And that is the way it occurred. However I can let you know, going again to the previous within the current—it is unbelievable."

Glass, who died in 1984, was a prolific character actor whose first half was an uncredited position in the 1937 screwball comedy True Confession. Later TV jobs included Barney Miller and Cagney & Lacey.

United Artists; Ramona Rosales/Twentieth Century Fox

When You are a Jet...

United Artists; Ramona Rosales/Twentieth Century Fox

Simply Play It Cool

"Each Latino on this film is Latino," Moreno informed Parade, contrasting the 2021 model with the sparsely Latinx solid of the unique. "All of the boys within the Sharks are Hispanic. Not everybody's Puerto Rican, however all of them are Hispanic. And that makes me completely satisfied."

United Artists; Walter McBride/Getty Photos

John Astin/Mike Iveson as Glad Hand

The daddy of actors Sean and Mackenzie Astin had an uncredited position because the social employee who unsuccessfully tries to thaw tensions between the Sharks and the Jets—and a minimum of will get all of them in the identical fitness center for a pivotal dance. 

Astin appeared in movies akin to That Contact of Mink, 1976's Freaky FridayTeen Wolf Too and The Frighteners, in addition to on numerous TV exhibits, however he is a cult-classic determine largely attributable to his position as patriarch Gomez Addams within the 1960s-era The Addams Household sitcom (and he was the unique Riddler on Batman with Adam West).

Iveson's solely earlier credit score is an episode of Orange Is the New Black, so he is making fairly the splashy film debut.

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Simon Oakland/Corey Stoll as Police Lt. Schrank

Fruitlessly attempting to maintain the peace is Schrank, a plain garments cop who'd choose the native youth shed much less blood on his streets.

Oakland was a busy character actor whose different movies included Psycho (he is the psychiatrist who reveals Norman Bates' mommy points) and Bullitt, and he did tons of TV work earlier than his demise in 1983.

The very busy Stoll (Scenes From a MarriageThe Many Saints of Newark and Billions, simply to call what he is bought occurring this 12 months) carries the badge this time round.

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William Bramley/Brian d'Arcy James as Officer Krupke

Technically it is Police Sgt. Krupke, however the Jets' baton-wielding nemesis hasn't precisely garnered their respect.

D'Arcy James is understood from onscreen turns in Highlight and 13 Causes Why, and he has extra greater than a dozen Broadway credit to his title, most not too long ago starring within the Sam Mendes-directed The Ferryman.

Bramley originated the position on Broadway and made his movie debut in the 1961 movie, occurring to dozens of extra appearances in motion pictures (typically as a cop) and TV earlier than his demise in 1985. The indelible character lives on in popular culture infamy, although, together with within the "Officer Krupke" episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, during which Larry David encounters a cop with the identical title. By the top, as common, everybody's saying, "Krup you, Larry."

West Facet Story is in theaters now.


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