In June of 2020, a woman named Gabby claimed in a since-deleted post that Elgort sexually assaulted her in 2014, when she was 17. At the time, Elgort vehemently denied the sexual assault allegation, stating in a statement that they had "a brief, legal and entirely consensual relationship."
The allegation was tweeted nine months after West Side Story wrapped filming and then became a topic of discussion leading up to the release. Prior to the film's premiere, the actor only participated in group interviews and did no additional press, even after no formal charges were ever made against him. The musical unfortunately underperformed at the box office despite critical praise, with many factors including the pandemic and audiences' interest in musicals.
"We made a movie two and a half years ago, and a lot has gone on in the world since then. A lot has changed very publicly, and privately as well. There’s been a lot of awakening," Rachel Zegler, who plays Elgort's love interest, says in a new joint interview with The Hollywood Reporter. "You just hope that the people involved are OK, that they are asked in a respectful manner and that they are given the opportunity to answer for themselves."
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"Nobody really knows what’s going on in anyone’s head. Only the people who were involved in that situation know what actually went down,” Ariana DeBose adds.
Rita Moreno, on her end, says, "I think it would have been absolutely horrendous and wrong for anyone to take sides in that matter. It’s not for me to make those judgments."
The publication does note that director Steven Spielberg declined to comment on the matter, and "it's again the women who are left to address" Elgort's allegation.
Meanwhile, the three actresses do touch on the new iteration, with Zegler calling it "a huge leap forward."
"In the same way that Bob Wise and Jerry Robbins probably thought they did right by it back in the 1960s, I look forward to future iterations,” she says. "That’s why art is so fantastic: It can keep being adapted to move with society’s vision as well as the original."
"We had a great year for Latin rep in film. We had Encanto and Vivo and In the Heights," Zegler continues, with DeBose adding that despite the poor box-office numbers and comparisons to In the Heights, she notes, "We don’t do it to Caucasian films, so why are you doing it to all these BIPOC films?"
Zegler says, "At the core of it is, how does Hollywood know to make more Latin stories if they don’t perform? Of course. That’s why we push so hard, that’s why we promote the hell out of [the movie], because we want people to see it, and therefore the higher-ups will see that as the public deeming us as having worthy stories to tell. But at the end of the day, the stories are worth it whether people believe it to be or not. We’re not going anywhere. We’re here now."