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.
Casting for the film is still underway.
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?