20th Century Studios has revealed several new photos from Steven Spielberg's West Side Story remake. This was described as a passion project for Spielberg and will be the first time the legendary director has taken on a musical in his impressive career. Now, we have a much better idea of what this new take on the Broadway classic is going to look like, thanks to these images.
The images heavily focus on Baby Driver star Ansel Elgort as Tony, in addition to newcomer Rachel Zegler, who landed the coveted role of Maria. We see the two sharing a romantic moment in one shot, with Maria leading a colorful dance number in another. There are also a couple of shots that tease the gang rivalry at the center of the story. Rita Moreno, who starred in the original movie and is returning in a different role for the remake, is also revealed in one of the images. Steven Spielberg had this to say about the movie.
"My mom was a classical pianist. Our entire home was festooned with classical musical albums, and I grew up surrounded by classical music. West Side Story was actually the first piece of popular music our family ever allowed into the home. I absconded with it, this was the cast album from the 1957 Broadway musical, and just fell completely in love with it as a kid. West Side Story has been that one haunting temptation that I have finally given in to."
West Side Story was adapted for the big screen in 1961 by Jerome Robbins and Robert Wise. The adaptation was heralded and went on to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards. Steven Spielberg, in bringing the tale to life for modern audiences, wanted to bring a genuine Peurto Rican perspective. So, they hired Hispanic performers and made sure the cast represented the cultures depicted in the story. Steven Spielberg had this to say about it.
"This story is not only a product of its time, but that time has returned, and it's returned with a kind of social fury. I really wanted to tell that Puerto Rican, Nuyorican experience of basically the migration to this country and the struggle to make a living, and to have children, and to battle against the obstacles of xenophobia and racial prejudice...
They brought an authenticity. They brought themselves, and everything they believe and everything about them, they brought that to the work. And there was so much interaction between the cast wanting to be able to commit to the Puerto Rican experience. They all represent, I think, a diversity, both within the Puerto Rican, Nuyorican community as well as the broader Latinx community. And they took that seriously."
The story is essentially a modernized take on a Romeo and Juliet romance that centers on two New York street gangs; the Jets and the Sharks. Both gangs are at war over turf on the upper west side. The situation becomes complicated when a gang member falls in love with a rival's sister.
Filming wrapped on the remake in October. Disney's 20th Century Studios currently intends to release West Side Story on December 18, positioning it as a possible Oscar contender. It's unlikely that the ongoing coronavirus crisis will cause a delay for a title that far away, but as the situation evolves, that could change. Be sure to check out the pictures for yourself. This news comes to us via Vanity Fair.