'West Side Story' 's Rachel Zegler Addresses Ansel Elgort Allegations: 'There's Been a Lot of Awakening'

Ansel Elgort, who plays Rachel Zegler's love interest in West Side Story, previously denied accusations made in 2020 that he sexual assaulted a 17-year-old girl back in 2014

Rachel Zegler, Ansel Elgort
Photo: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images; Jesse Grant/Getty Images

Ansel Elgort's West Side Story costars are addressing sexual assault allegations made against the actor, which he has denied.

In June 2020, Elgort was accused of sexually assaulting a 17-year-old girl in 2014 when he was 20. The woman (a Twitter user named Gabby who shared the claims on social media) also alleged that he tried to solicit nude photos from her at the time and asked to have a threesome.

The Fault in Our Stars actor responded in a statement at the time, saying he has "never and would never assault anyone," and that they had a "brief, legal and entirely consensual relationship."

Steven Spielberg's West Side Story, in which Elgort plays the lead Tony, was filmed prior to the allegations being made public. The musical hit theaters in December after being postponed due to the pandemic. Elgort participated in group interviews to promote the project, and he attended the red carpet with longtime girlfriend Violetta Komyshan.

In a new Hollywood Reporter cover story, Rachel Zegler, who plays Elgort's love interest Maria, addressed the allegations against her costar.

"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," she told the outlet. "You just hope that the people involved are okay, that they are asked in a respectful manner and that they are given the opportunity to answer for themselves."

Two other West Side Story costars also commented on the controversy. Rita Moreno, who shared most of her scenes with Elgort, said, "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."

Meanwhile, Ariana DeBose said, "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."

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 06: Mike Faist, Ansel Elgort, David Alvarez, Ariana DeBose, Rachel Zegler and Rita Moreno attend SiriusXM's Town Hall with the Cast of "West Side Story" Hosted By SiriusXM's Jess Cagle at the SiriusXM Studios on December 06, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for SiriusXM)
Vivien Killilea/Getty

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In his June 2020 statement, Elgort said, "I was distressed to see the social media posts about me that have been circulating in the past 24 hours. I cannot claim to understand Gabby's feelings but her description of events is simply not what happened. I have never and would never assault anyone."

"What is true is that in New York in 2014, when I was 20, Gabby and I had a brief, legal and entirely consensual relationship. Unfortunately, I did not handle the breakup well. I stopped responding to her, which is an immature and cruel thing to do to someone. I know this belated apology does not absolve me of my unacceptable behavior when I disappeared," he continued. "As I look back at my attitude, I am disgusted and deeply ashamed of the way I acted. I am truly sorry. I know I must continue to reflect, learn, and work to grow in empathy."

The woman said she initially chose not to come forward with her allegations but she decided to speak out so she could "finally heal." She wrote, "Years later I have ptsd, I have panic attacks I go to therapy. Finally I'm ready to talk about it and finally heal." She also alleged that she "didn't tell anyone because [Elgort] said it could 'ruin his career.' "

If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, please contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or go to rainn.org.

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