Rita Moreno is an icon. The Puerto Rican singer, dancer, and actress is a true legend who broke gender and racial barriers. She has paved the way for future artists to make a name for themselves. The EGOT winner is best known for her role as Anita in West Side Story. In fact, that role helped her win the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. And now, she will be coming back, although for a very different role.
New reports confirm that Moreno will star in Steven Spielberg’s remake of the 1961 musical of the same name. And in a slight twist, she will play a new character that is being designed for the film. More on the report, below.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Moreno will not only star in the film but will also executive produce it.
For those who are unfamiliar with West Side Story, the film centers on two rival gangs and a forbidden love between Tony, a member of the white gang called the Jets, and Maria, the younger sister of the leader of a Puerto Rican gang, The Sharks. Think of it as Romeo and Juliet, but with song and dance.
In the original film, Moreno played Anita, Maria’s best friend and Bernardo’s younger sister. Maria is also Chino’s arranged fiancee. However, she is actually in love with Tony. Ansel Elgort will play Tony. As for Moreno, she will play Valentina, a re-conceived and expanded version of the character of Doc, the owner of the corner store in which Tony works
Moreno had this to say about the casting:
“Never in my wildest dreams did I see myself revisiting this seminal work. 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!”
Adding Moreno to the West Side Story remake, in any capacity, was the right move. And it appears that it was one that has been in the works for quite some time. Here’s what Spielberg had to say about bringing her on board:
“From our earliest discussions, we wanted to include Rita Moreno in our production. Her Anita 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.”
Indeed, Moreno’s Anita is what makes the original film so great. She sings “America,” which is considered to be one of the best songs in the film.
So far, Elgort and Moreno are the only ones cast so far. Production for West Side Story is set to begin in summer 2019 for a release date that has yet to be revealed.