Arts & Culture

Ansel Elgort Will Play Tony in Steven Spielberg's West Side Story Remake

From casting news to how this version will differ from the 1957 original.
IMAGE GETTY IMAGES/JARED SISKIN
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Hollywood is having a real revival moment, but this is one remake we can get behind: the Sharks and the Jets are heading back to the big screen, this time, in an adaptation of West Side Story from director Steven Spielberg.

Here's what we know about the film so far:

ANSEL ELGORT WILL STAR AS TONY.

The Hollywood Reporter confirmed the news that Ansel will play the tragic lead role. The outlet also reports that production is slated to start next summer.

IT HAS SOME SERIOUS SOURCE MATERIAL TO LIVE UP TO.

Originally a 1957 musical with book by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein, and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, West Side Story is a modern adaptation of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, with the action taking place in New York City instead of fair Verona.

Rival gangs the Sharks (made up of Puerto Rican immigrants) and the Jets (whose members are white non-immigrants) take the place of the Capulets and Montagues. Tony, a founder of the Jets, plays the Romeo role, falling in love with Maria, sister of Bernardo, the leader of the Sharks.

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The 1961 film version co-directed by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins starred Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer, Russ Tambyln, Rita Moreno, and George Chakiris, and won ten Academy Awards.

Here's a taste of that version:

A CASTING CALL HAS GONE OUT.

First reported by Broadway World on January 25, a casting call has gone out for the project. "Must be able to sing," it reportedly read. "Dance experience a plus."

It also indicated they were looking to cast a Caucasian actor as Tony, Latina actresses as Maria and Anita, and a Latino actor as Bernardo, all between the ages of 15 and 25. This marks a much-needed change from the original film, in which Natalie Wood, an actress of Russian descent, played Maria.


No news yet on who will be playing Maria.

THERE'S A SCRIPT IN THE WORKS.

Playwright at Screenwriter Tony Kushner, perhaps best known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning play Angels in America, will pen the adaptation.

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This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.

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Caroline Hallemann
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