West Side Story remake: Who is playing Maria and Tony?

16 January 2019, 16:15 | Updated: 16 January 2019, 16:51

West Side Story
Picture: Getty

By Tom Eames

It's been nearly 60 years since West Side Story lit up the big screen.

The iconic musical from 1961 is being remade into a brand new film, and is expected to be released in 2020.

But who is in the cast and what can we expect from the new version? Here are all the facts so far:

  1. What is West Side Story?

    West Side Story is a musical written by Arthur Laurents, with music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.

    The story was inspired by William Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet, and is set in the Upper West Side neighbourhood in New York City in the mid 1950s.

    It follows the rivalry between the Jets and the Sharks, two teenage street gangs of different ethnic backgrounds. The members of the Sharks, hailing from Puerto Rico, are at war with the Jets, a white gang.

    Tony, a former member of the Jets and best friend of the gang's leader Riff, falls in love with Maria, the sister of Bernardo, who just so happens to be the leader of the Sharks.

    In 1961, it was made into a Hollywood film starring Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer, winning 10 Oscars.

  2. Who is directing the West Side Story remake?

    Steven Spielberg
    Steven Spielberg. Picture: Getty

    The new adaptation is set to be directed by Steven Spielberg, and written by Tony Kushner, the man behind Angels in America and Lincoln.

    Kushner has said that he plans to keep it closer to the original Broadway musical than the 1961 movie version, saying that "there are aspects of urban life in ‘57, ‘58, ‘59 that weren’t touched on in the 1961 movie that we are focusing on."

  3. West Side Story cast: Who is playing Maria and Tony?

    Rachel Zegler
    Rachel Zegler. Picture: Twitter/Rachel Zegler

    In an exciting move, an unknown high school student has been cast as Maria.

    Rachel Zegler, 17, was chosen from 30,000 applicants after responding to a casting call for Latino and Latina actors in 2018.

    Writing on Instagram, Zegler said she was "honoured" to have been cast, having previously played Maria in a high school musical.

    "When I played Maria on stage a few summers ago, I never could have imagined that I'd be taking on the role again in Steven Spielberg's West Side Story," she wrote.

    "As a Colombian-American woman growing up in this day and age, strong roles like Maria are so important. To be able to bring that role to life - a role that means so much to the Hispanic community - is so humbling."

    Meanwhile, actor Ansel Elgort will play Tony. He is best known for his roles in movies such as The Fault in Our Stars and Baby Driver.

    Ansel Elgort
    Ansel Elgort. Picture: Getty

    When he announced the remake, Spielberg said that he would only cast Latina and Latino actors for the Puerto Rican roles.

    Further casting details have yet to be announced.

  4. West Side Story release date: When does it come out?

    There has yet to be an official release date, but filming is set to commence later in 2019.

    We would expect it to be released at some point in 2020.

  5. West Side Story songs: Which songs will appear?

    Spielberg has yet to confirm which songs will appear, or if any new songs will be written for the musical.

    Songs in the original musical include: 'Something's Coming', 'Maria', 'America', 'Somewhere', 'Tonight', 'I Feel Pretty', 'A Boy Like That', 'One Hand, One Heart', 'Gee, Officer Krupke', and 'Cool'.