Rita Moreno is back again. The highly acclaimed Puerto Rican actress captivated audiences and gained international attention when she starred in the classic 1961 musical film “West Side Story.” Now, over 50 years later, the 86-year-old actress will return to Stephen Spielberg’s re-adaptation of the Leonard Bernstein-Stephen Sondheim lyric musical that won the actress Oscar years ago.
On Tuesday it was announced that the EGOT winner would return to “West Side Story” for the remake.
According to Deadline, the actress will play Valentina, “a preconceived and expanded version of the character of Doc, the owner of the corner store” in the Steven Spielberg adaptation of the movie. In the original film, Moreno played Anita Palacio the Puerto Rican girlfriend of Bernardo who is the leader of the Sharks gang. She is also the best friend of Bernardo’s younger sister Maria who falls in love with Jets leader Tony. In the film, Moreno’s character Anita sang some of the most beloved melodies from the musical such as “America” and “Tonight.” In addition to her role as Valentina Moreno will also take on the part of an executive producer.
The adaptation of the hit Broadway musical takes on the tale of Romeo and Juliet and centers its characters in 1960s New York amidst turmoil between the leaders of two rival gangs. Ansel Elgort has reportedly been tapped to play the part of Tony while Camila Cabello is one of many actresses rumored to be under consideration for the role of Maria.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I see myself revisiting this seminal work,” Moreno told Deadline in a statement. “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!”
Speaking about Moreno’s new role, Spielberg admitted he had plans to include Moreno from the start of the new adaption’s conception. “From our earliest discussions, we wanted to include Rita Moreno in our production,” the director said.”Her Anita is one of the greatest musical performances ever filmed, and a personal favorite of mine,” Spielberg said. “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.”
Spielberg’s “West Side Story” is scheduled to begin production in the summer.
The legendary Moreno won an Oscar for her role as Anita in the original movie musical back in 1961. Can we bank on two times a charm?
In this scary and confusing life, there are only a few things we know for sure. One of these things is that Puerto-Rican born legendary actress Rita Moreno is a national treasure who continues to give us life in the year of our Lord two-thousand and nineteen.
We need no excuse to celebrate the incredible Rita Moreno, and because we love her so much, we’ve compiled a list of 20 times (out of many) that Moreno was the queen we don’t deserve. Long live the queen!
1.When she gave Trump the middle finger on national television
Recently, Moreno The Queen herself paid a visit to Jimmy Kimmel live and recounted the story of the first time she met Donald Trump. When finishing up the story, she playfully told President Trump, “I’ve got a finger for ya,” and flipped off the camera. She definitely hasn’t lost her spunk!
2. When she insisted her character on “One Day At a Time” Be Written As a Sexual Being
When talking about her latest role as abuelita Lydia Riera in Netflix’s “One Day at a Time”, Moreno revealed: “[B]efore there was even a script, I said [to the writers]: I’d like her to be sexual. Because you don’t see that. Once people turn a certain age, that gets completely ignored by writers, and it’s a shame”.
3. When she guest-starred on Jane the Virgin
Fans of “Jane the Virgin” were delighted when it was announced that Moreno was cast as Rogelia de La Vega’s controlling stage mother, Liliana de La Vega. As for her performance, she didn’t disappoint: Moreno served up enough outrageous diva moments to keep us rolling on the floor.
4. When She Won an Oscar…
The award that started it all! Latinas everywhere felt truly recognized when Moreno won the (much-deserved) Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her incredible work as Anita in “West Side Story.”
5. …When She Won a Grammy…
Moreno continued her awards streak by winning a Grammy Award in 1972 for Best Children’s Album. The album was compilation of the songs from the hit children’s show, “The Electric Company”.
6. …When She Won a Tony…
Moreno continued to be the Latina Queen we don’t deserve by winning a Tony Award in 1975 for Best Lead Actress in a play for the Broadway production of “The Ritz”.
7. …And When She Won an Emmy
When she won an Emmy for hilarious work on “The Muppet Show” in 1977, the pure shock on Moreno’s face was probably due to the fact that she realized she was now cemented in the canon of history. It was the final award she needed to officially become “EGOT” status.
8. When she re-wore the gown she wore to the 1962 Oscars in 2018
In 2018, Moreno was kind enough to re-wear the original dress she wore to the Oscars in 1962—the year she took home the Gold Statue. She arguably worked that dress better at 86 than she did when she was a young ingenue.
9. When she blessed us with that whole performance in “West Side Story”
Think about it: Moreno didn’t have to go that hard for us. But, she did. She did.
10. When she dissed the problematic roles she was forced to play in her early career
Before she had enough industry clout to play more nuanced roles, Moreno was only offered parts that she later dubbed “dusky maiden” roles. Notably, she was forced to wear yellow-face in “The King and I” in the role of “Tutpim”–one of the King of Siam’s numerous wives. Later, Moreno had a few choice words to say about this time in her career: “I hated the dark makeup, being barefoot—all of it”.
11. Her controversial 1954 Life magazine cover
Before she hit the big time, Moreno was chosen as the cover girl for a particularly sexy issue of “Life” magazine where she was also featured in a multi-page spread. The issue got the attention of much of Hollywood, possibly due to the front page headline, which read: “Rita Moreno: An Actress’s Catalog of Sex and Innocence”.
12. When she kept it real in her tell-all memoir
Moreno shocked the public when she revealed intimate details of her passionate affair with legendary actor Marlon Brando in her 2013 autobiography, “Rita Moreno: A Memoir”. Of Brando, Moreno said: “To say that he was a great lover would be gravely understating what he did not only to my body, but for my soul. Every aspect of being with Marlon was thrilling, because he was more engaged in the world than anyone else I’d ever known”.
13. When She Received the Kennedy Center Honors Award
If you haven’t yet seen the video of Gina Rodriguez’s heartfelt tribute to Moreno during her Kennedy Center Honors Award ceremony, we highly suggest you take a look. Rodriguez’s tribute is extremely touching, as is Moreno’s emotional response.
14. She constantly keeps it hip
Never one to lose her sense of humor, Moreno made a hilarious entrance during the ___ commencement ceremony of The Berklee College of Music. We love how she’s not afraid to make fun of herself.
15. When she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom
In 2004, Moreno received the Presidential Medal of Freedom for “helping shape our nation’s cultural and artistic heritage”. It’s reasons like these why we love Moreno: her career has made us much impact on the broader US culture as it has on America’s Latinx community.
16. When she narrated the audiobook version of Justice Sonya Sotomayor’s memoir
Justice Sonya Sotomayor personally asked fellow Puerto-Rican Rita Moreno to read the audio version of her memoir, “My Beloved World”. Fitting, considering that Moreno “burst into tears” when she first heard the news that Sotomayor would be the first Latina Supreme Court Justice.
17. When she shared her philosophy on dealing with haters
In a Vulture interview that focused on her “One Day at a Time” success, Moreno dispensed a kernel of precious advice: “You don’t die if someone doesn’t like you…A woman in [group therapy] didn’t like me…and she just spewed utter dislike of me…I found out that you don’t die from being disliked. For me, that’s very important”.
18. When she went makeup-less to film an emotional scene
In the same interview, Moreno touched on the only time she’s ever been makeup-less on camera, in a touching scene in “One Day at a Time”. “I was actually very happy to do it,” she explained. “Maybe it’s my age, but I know I look good”. Yaasss Queen!
19. When she shared her philosophy on aging
“People tell me I look good these days,” Moreno said recently. “I look good because I feel good… It’s all about attitude”. We couldn’t agree more!
20. When she expressed unabashed joy at receiving the SAG-AFTRA Lifetime Achievement Award
One of the things we love so much about Moreno, is that she never seems to take her career for granted, and to that end, has never has come off as jaded by her success. A perfect example of this is when she received a Lifetime Achievement Award from SAG-AFTRA and gushed that she was “so bloody happy”. We love you, Rita!
Everybody’s favorite 90s romantic comedy, “My Best Friend’s Wedding,” is packed with various moments of hilarious victories that make the movie so lovable. The 1997 film stars Julia Roberts as a 27-year-old Julianne Potter who flies to Chicago to break up her best friend (Dermot Mulroney’s) marriage to 20-year-old Kimmy (played by Cameron Diaz). It’s filled with meddling moments and mini-disasters including one iconic scene made of a particular sort of awkwardness.
In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, Diaz spoke about the one scene that prompted everyone to steer clear of karaoke bars.
My Best Friend’s Wedding/ TriStar Pictures
In one of the film’s most beloved scenes, Cameron Diaz’s Kimmy stands before a packed karaoke bar at the urging of Julianne and sputters and cries her way through Dionne Warwick’s “I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself.” The scene is awkwardly heavy, with Diaz’s blotchy, clammy, pink face tearing apart every note and Julia Robert’s conniving character’s satisfied smirk. The patrons in the bar sit awkwardly still in their seats as they watch the trainwreck and experience the ultimate form of secondhand embarrassment. Then suddenly, through Kimmy’s show of good sportsmanship, the scene turns around.
The patrons join in on the song, singing, and clapping. Julianne is noticeably dumbfounded by her failed scheme. No doubt, the entire experience was humiliating for everyone watching (audience included) but there’s also no denying that the proper people have been charmed, even us the viewers who were supposed to be rooting for Julianne, can’t help but have a change of heart over the girl who has a father worth billions.
That’s just good acting. Or, so we thought.
Speaking with Entertainment Weekly for its latest reunion special, Diaz explained that the film was far more real than we might have guessed.
During the interview that commemorated the film which is now over twenty years old, Diaz admitted that the idea of standing up in front of the bar and singing actually, truly made her miserable.
“I was terrified to do that scene, for real,” Diaz, who is of Cuban descent admitted. “I allowed the true terror of singing in front of people to be alive in me. I wanted to run and hide, and Dermot kept me there. He said, “You can do it, you can do it.” In the scene I’m just staring at him the whole time because he’s looking at me like, “You’re okay. You’re not gonna die.” And I was like, “But I’m dying.”