In all of his nearly five decades of work behind the camera, Steven Spielberg has never directed a musical, but that all changes with the release of West Side Story, his take on the Romeo and Juliet-inspired Broadway hit. Starring Rachel Zegler and Ansel Elgort as the star-crossed lovers from opposite sides of a street gang conflict in 1950s New York, the film reintroduces the world to the Jets and the Sharks with all the classic melodies and spectacularly updated choreography. Ahead of the film’s release, RT correspondent Nikki Novak spoke with Spielberg, Zegler, and Elgort, as well as co-stars Brian d’Arcy James, David Alvarez, Ariana DeBose, and Mike Faist about their experiences bringing the production to life. In addition, Nikki spoke with Rita Moreno, who won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar as Anita in the 1961 film adaptation of the musical and also plays a newly expanded role in Spielberg’s film, about the “sublime, thrilling, weird” experience she had returning to the story. The cast discuss how Zegler’s Maria was updated from previous incarnations (and why she was like the LeBron James of her high school senior play), how choreographer Justin Peck put his own stamp on the dance numbers, and what it was like working with Moreno. Then Steven Spielberg reveals how he belted inappropriate lyrics at the dinner table as a 10-year-old, what it was like to work alongside original songwriter Stephen Sondheim, and why he’d like to see his films Hook and Always remade by another director.
West Side Story opens in theaters on December 10, 2021.