Entertainment Movies See the Original 'West Side Story' Cast Side-by-Side with the New Stars More than 60 years after the original 1961 film premiered, Steven Spielberg is remaking West Side Story with a brand-new cast By Kelsie Gibson Kelsie Gibson Twitter Kelsie Gibson is the SEO Editor of PEOPLE Digital. Since joining the brand in 2021, she has contributed to a number of different verticals, writing and editing SEO content ranging from relationship timelines to TV and movie explainers. Prior to joining PEOPLE, Kelsie worked at POPSUGAR as the Celebrity and Entertainment editor, where she wrote and edited content and conducted various interviews for online and video at press junkets, red carpets, and events such as Tribeca Film Festival. She was also formerly at Bustle, Tiger Beat, and Her Campus and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. People Editorial Guidelines Published on December 4, 2021 12:00 PM Share Tweet Pin Email Photo: Mary Evans/AF Archive/Kobal/Wireimage; Niko Tavernise /© 20th Century Studios / Courtesy Everett Collection West Side Story is hitting the big screen again! More than 60 years after the original film premiered in 1961, Steven Spielberg is remaking the classic musical movie for a whole new generation. The film (which is based on the 1957 Broadway musical of the same name and inspired by Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet) follows two young teenagers named Maria and Tony from different backgrounds who fall in love in 1950s New York City. While the film will feature a brand-new set of young actors playing Tony, Maria, and more, it will still pay tribute to its roots. Rita Moreno, who played Anita in the original 1961 film, plays a newly created character named Valentina and also serves as an executive producer. Ahead of the film's official release on Dec. 10, see the original actors side-by-side with the new stars below. West Side Story Remake Praised by Critics: 'Spielberg Topped the Original' Maria: Natalie Wood and Rachel Zegler Silver Screen Collection/Getty; 0th Century Studios / Courtesy Everett Wood originally played Maria in the 1961 film. Even though the late actress had many notable parts throughout her career, including Miracle on 34th Street, Splendor in the Grass and Gypsy, West Side Story is often regarded as one of her greatest roles. Beating out 30,000 applicants, Zegler scored the role of Maria at just 17 years old in 2019. The upcoming film marks her feature film debut, but she already has a handful of acting gigs lined up including Shazam! Fury of the Gods and the Snow White live-action remake. Tony: Richard Beymer and Ansel Elgort everett; Niko Tavernise /© 20th Century Studios / Courtesy Everett Beymer originally played Tony in the 1961 film, for which he received a 1962 Golden Globe for new star of the year – actor. He later played Ben Horne on Twin Peaks opposite his West Side Story costar Russ Tamblyn. Following roles in The Fault in Our Stars, Baby Driver, and the Divergent series, Ansel Elgort plays the lead role of Tony in the new adaptation. Riff: Russ Tamblyn and Mike Faist United Artists/Getty; Patrick Higgins, 2021. © 20th Century Studios / Courtesy Everett After roles in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and Peyton Place, for which he was nominated for an Oscar, Russ Tamblyn (yes, Amber's dad) played Riff, the leader of the Jets gang. In the '90s, he went on to star as Dr. Lawrence Jacoby on Twin Peaks. Mike Faist is no stranger to musical theater. Before playing Riff, the actor played Morris Delancey in Disney's Newsies and originated the role of Connor in the Broadway production of Dear Evan Hansen. Anita: Rita Moreno and Ariana DeBose Silver Screen Collection/Getty; Niko Tavernise / © 20th Century Studios / Courtesy Everett Rita Moreno famously played Anita, Bernardo's girlfriend and Maria's close friend, in 1961's West Side Story. She ended up winning an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role (though has since expressed some regrets over the skin-darkening makeup she had to wear). Since West Side Story, she has had an extensive career in film and theater and is one of few performers to receive an EGOT (an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony). She is set to play a new character named Valentina in the new adaptation of West Side Story. Ariana DeBose is yet another West Side Story star with a background in musical theater. The actress plays Anita, but before that, she made her Broadway debut in the musical Bring It On: The Musical. She went on to appear in Motown: The Musical, Pippin and Hamilton. She also starred as Donna Summer in Summer: The Donna Summer Musical, for which she earned a Tony nomination for best featured actress in a musical, and starred in Netflix's The Prom and Apple TV+'s Schmigadoon!. Bernardo: George Chakiris and David Alvarez everett; Niko Tavernise /© 20th Century Studios / Courtesy Everett George Chakiris was a well-known dancer in Hollywood (you've seen him in Marilyn Monroe's "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend" number and White Christmas) before landing his best-known role: Bernardo, the leader of the Sharks gang. For his role, Chakiris won both an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor and a Golden Globe for best supporting actor – motion picture. Before playing Bernardo, David Alvarez played one of the original Billys in the Broadway production of Billy Elliot the Musical and eventually became one of the youngest winners for best actor in a leading role in a musical at the Tony Awards. He took time off from performing to join the Army but returned to the stage in Broadway's "On the Town."