Ansel Elgort joins Steven Spielberg’s ‘West Side Story’
The Steven Spielberg interpretation of classic musical and tale of across-the-lines romance “West Side Story” has Ansel Elgort of “The Fault in Our Stars” and the “Divergent” saga as its lead.
With its movie screenplay written by Oscar-nominated Spielberg collaborator, playwright Tony Kushner (“Lincoln”, “Angels In America”), filming on “West Side Story” is to get underway in mid-2019.
By then, the cast list will be a little further filled out, but for now there’s the name of the main character, street gang-associated Tony.
Itself inspired by William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” and a collaboration between Stephen Sondheim, Leonard Bernstein and Arthur Laurents, “West Side Story” made its Broadway debut in 1957 with a 1961 film following shortly after.
Perhaps remarkably, given the play and film’s iconic and critically acclaimed nature — the movie cleared up at the Academy Awards with ten Oscars and an Honorary Award, while the ’58 play collected two Tonys — this is the first remake and is expected to stick with a 1950s time period.
Elgort, best known as an actor, also has a career as a remixer, songwriter and singer (his single “Supernova” was released in January 2018), and an early childhood background in dance.
As Tony, he plays a young man whose closest buddy is leader of a neighborhood gang called the Jets.
Tony used to be part of the Jets, though his status is now hazy, and he and a local girl called Maria meet each other and begin to fall in love, despite the differences that others say are supposed to keep them apart.
Casting notices circulated in January indicated that Spielberg was looking for Spanish-speaking actors and actresses to fill the roles of the story’s three other leading roles: Tony’s girlfriend Maria, her best friend Anita, and her brother (and leader of rival gang The Sharks), Bernardo. JB