Washington: Rachel Zegler, a high school student is all set to make her film debut starring in the role played by Natalie Wood in the 1961 classic.
Zegler got chosen after responding to the production’s open casting call for Latinx actors with a video of herself singing ‘Tonight’ and ‘Me Siento Hermosa,’ The Hollywood Reporter wrote.
Speaking about the opportunity, she said, “I am so thrilled to be playing the iconic role of Maria alongside this amazing cast,” adding, “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.”
Also joining the Fox feature are Broadway veterans Ariana DeBose as Anita and David Alvarez as Bernardo, while theater performer Josh Andres Rivera has been cast as Chino. They will join Ansel Elgort as Tony and Rita Moreno as Valentina, a reconceived and expanded version of the character of Doc.
Speaking about the production, Steven Spielberg said, “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.”
He further added, “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.”
The feature, which is scheduled to begin filming this summer is being produced by Spielberg, Kevin McCollum and Kristie Macosko Krieger.