‘West Side Story’ Remake Casts Newcomer as Maria

‘West Side Story’ Remake Casts Newcomer as Maria

Writing on Instagram, Zegler said she was "honoured" to have been cast in the role, having only ever played Maria in a high school musical.

Steven Spielberg's much-anticipated West Side Story remake has found its Maria in newcomer Rachel Zegler. In the new film, Moreno will take on the role of Valentina, a reimagined version of Tony's boss, Doc, and she will also executive produce.

Spielberg's new adaptation of the hit Broadway musical is a modern-day Romeo and Juliet love story between Tony, a former member of the Jets gang, and Maria, the younger sister of the leader of its rival gang, the Sharks. The 17-year-old submitted tapes of her performing Tonight and Me Siento Hermosa from the iconic musical's soundtrack.

"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".

Zegler has been posting her covers of her favourite songs on YouTube for the past few years, amassing more than 84,000 subscribers. The play was inspired by William Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" and set in a NY neighborhood and focused on the rivalry between two gangs.

Added Zegler: "I am so thrilled to be playing the iconic role of Maria alongside this fantastic cast". This remake has been a passion project for Spielberg for years, though it remains to be seen if he'll be able to recapture the magic of the first movie, which was nominated for 11 Oscars and won 10, including Best Picture.

"I send a huge thank you to everyone who helped make this incredible dream a reality - I never could've done it alone", she continued, calling out the cast members whom she is "so honored" to work alongside "in telling this impeccably poignant story".

Filming for "West Side Story" is set to begin in the summer of 2019.

Rounding out the cast are Broadway stars Ariana DeBose as Anita, David Alvarez as Bernardo and Josh Andrés Rivera as Chino.

Maria was played by Natalie Wood in the 1961 movie and her singing voice was later dubbed by Marni Nixon for most of the musical numbers.

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