Rita Moreno Dishes on 'West Side Story' Role, Sets the Record Straight on Scripting Comments (Exclusive)

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Rita Moreno is spilling West Side Story details!

The legendary actress never thought she would revisit the project that brought her to fame, telling ET's Deidre Behar at the One Day at a Time season three premiere at Regal Cinemas L.A. Live in Los Angles on Thursday, that she couldn't believe Steven Spielberg called her to be a part of the new West Side Story movie.

"I don’t even know what words to say. I can tell you that when I spoke to Steve Spielberg on the phone I damn near wet my pants," Moreno, 87, laughed before teasing her role. "What they did, which I thought was pretty clever, you know the candy store where the kids would hang out, the gangs, was run by a man named Doc. Well Doc is gone. He probably passed away and his wife Valentina is now running the candy store."

While she still hasn't met the lead actors, including Ariana DeBose who will take on Moreno's Oscar-winning role as Anita, Moreno said she's "dying to meet" everyone involved. She's also excited about the effort Spielberg and screenwriter Tony Kushner are putting into "trying to make right some of the wrongs in the original movie."

"Every single Shark [is] Puerto Rican," she shared. "Now, I would've settled for Hispanic. They could've been from anywhere. They killed themselves and they have done that all the way through the script. They are really making a huge effort and that moves me beyond [words]."

Rita Moreno One Day At A Time Premiere
Rachel Luna/Getty Images

Moreno also addressed the recent scripting comments she made about the film's Spanish -- in which she called the translations "horrific" in another interview -- that she said got out of hand.

"All I said was that it was so charming because the Spanish wasn't terrific in the script and I spoke to Steven about it. I said, 'You know, it's a bit off.' And he said, 'Pay no attention to that. It's Tony Kushner using his Spanish-English dictionary,'" she explained. "Because he wanted to make sure that the Hispanic kids were saying certain things, so he took that from the dictionary. So of course, that never really is perfect Spanish."

"But people were saying that I was slapping their hands because they didn’t get it right. Ay, ay, ay. Oh my gosh. It's crazy. Why are people like that?" she said. "There will always be people with agendas. There will always be, maybe even some Latinos not happy that the film is being remade."

She also said that her biggest worry, initially before she was involved, was that the remake would try to modernize the movie. "Do rap or something, and then what happens to the songs?" she said. "No, they are doing the [original] movie, that script."

While it'll be some time until fans see the movie, Moreno is excited for people to watch season three of her Netflix series, One Day at a Time. During the premiere she teased Gloria Estafan's role as her "hated sister."

"They both despise each other. She is so funny. I cannot wait to have her on the show again," she expressed. "We are close friends...I love her."

Season three of One Day at a Time launches globally on Friday, Feb. 8 on Netflix.

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