Steven Spielberg Casts Total Unknown for Lead in 'West Side Story'

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Ansel Elgort, Rachel Zegler
Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

Has a new starlet arrived in Hollywood?

Steven Spielberg is putting together the cast for his upcoming West Side Story adaptation and has just decided on his Maria! He has chosen Rachel Zegler, a 17-year-old with no prior work in film and TV. Tony, the film's male lead, will be played by none other than Ansel Elgort.

“I am so thrilled to be playing the iconic role of Maria alongside this amazing cast,” Zegler said in a statement. “West Side Story was the first musical I encountered with a Latina lead character. As a Colombian-American, I am humbled by the opportunity to play a role that means so much to the Hispanic community.”

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Zegler, a New Jersey high school student, won the role in an open casting call. She submitted a video of herself singing “Tonight” and “Me Sent Hermosa.”

"When we began this process a year ago, we announced that we would cast the roles of Maria, Anita, Bernardo, Chino and the Sharks with Latina and Latino actors. I’m so happy that we’ve assembled a cast that reflects the astonishing depth of talent in America’s multifaceted Hispanic community,” Spielberg explained. “I am in awe of the sheer force of the talent of these young performers, and I believe they’ll bring a new and electrifying energy to a magnificent musical that’s more relevant than ever.”

Also joining the cast is Rita Moreno, who played Anita in the 1961 classic. This time around, she’ll be playing Valentina, a new character who in many ways fills the role of Doc, the man who owned the store where Tony works. 

“Never in my wildest dreams did I see myself revisiting this seminal work,” she told Deadline in November. “And to be asked by Steven Spielberg to participate is simply thrilling!  Then to work together with the brilliant playwright, Tony Kushner – what a glorious stew! I am tingling!”

Get more news on the production down below.

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