Rita Moreno, 86, Joins Steven Spielberg's West Side Story Remake 57 Years After Film's Release
Rita Moreno is returning to the film that made her famous!
Moreno, 86, will star in Steven Spielberg’s new film adaptation of West Side Story and serve as an executive producer, according to 20th Century Fox, the studio releasing the new film.
The actress, who currently stars on Netflix’s One Day at a Time, will be playing Valentina in the adaptation, written by Oscar-nominated screenwriter and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tony Kushner, and based on the award-winning 1957 Broadway musical. Valentina is a re-conceived and expanded version of the character of Doc, the owner of the corner store in which Tony (played by Ansel Elgort) works. The original 1961 film adaptation launched Moreno’s career and won her an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I see myself revisiting this seminal work,” Moreno said in a statement. “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!”
Spielberg said they always hoped to have Moreno’s involvement in the film.
“From our earliest discussions, we wanted to include Rita Moreno in our production,” the director said in a statement. “Her Anita [from the 1961 film] is one of the greatest musical performances ever filmed, and a personal favorite of mine. We created an original role for her, and we feel beyond fortunate that Rita will bring her extraordinary gifts as an actress, as well as her deep understanding of West Side Story to this production as an executive producer.”
Moreno is one of the most decorated performers in entertainment — she is one of 15 people to be awarded an EGOT, having won two Emmys, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony. She has also been awarded the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award, a Kennedy Center Honor and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Inspired by Williams Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story famously centers on the rivalry between young street gangs, the Jets and the Sharks. The 1961 film adaptation won 10 Oscars, including best supporting actress for Moreno, best picture and best director.
Spielberg’s adaptation of West Side Story is set to begin filming in the summer of 2019 and also stars Ansel Elgort as Tony, one of the star-crossed lovers and a founder of the Jets.