Rita Moreno 'Very Curious' About 'West Side Story' Remake, Says Cameo Is ‘Moot Question’ (Exclusive)
By Chris Azzopardi
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images
Nearly 60 years after the original film adaptation of West Side Story hit theaters, Steven Spielberg is reviving the film -- and Rita Moreno, star of the 1961 classic, is "very curious about that."
"If it's going to be a contemporary version, then I would imagine that (the music) has to be rap," Moreno, 86, tells ET. "And if there is that, what happens to the songs? What are the dances going to look like? Are we not going to have the (West Side Story choreographer) Jerome Robbins dances? I'm just guessing that it'll be really, completely different."
Directed by Robbins and Robert Wise, Moreno played Anita in the legendary musical about two New York gangs and the tragic love story of a man and a woman caught in the middle. Winner of 10 Academy Awards, more than any other movie musical, the film was groundbreaking for Latina actresses, as Moreno became the first Hispanic woman to win Best Supporting Actress.
"I don't know of any teenagers that sing or dance like beasts," Moreno says, regarding the remake’s casting. "What's most important, I believe, is the dancing ability; you can always loop in someone else's voice, but you really can't fake the dancing."
With Angels in America playwright Tony Kushner penning the script, Spielberg's version is already shaping up to be authentically diverse, as the film's recent casting call is specifically seeking Spanish-speaking and Latinx actors. (The original notably cast white actors as members of the Sharks, the Puerto Rican gang.) Moreno is hopeful that one character in particular, Anybodys, originally played by Susan Oakes, will finally be able to live her authentic life onscreen.
"Anybodys can be what she was always meant to be: a lesbian," Moreno says about the tomboy character. "That's really what she was and what she was meant to be, but at the time that was as far as they could go."
Currently starring in the second season of Netflix's One Day at a Time, as Lydia, the family's beloved abuelita, would Moreno be interested in a cameo in Spielberg's West Side Story?
"There are no [older] women in this movie, so it's a moot question," she says. "You hear Maria's mother calling her -- I could do that!"