Rita Moreno Joins Steven Spielberg’s New West Side Story

Rita Moreno, Steven Spielberg

by James White |
Published on

You might recall that, earlier this month, there was a story about Rita Moreno joining the still-developing film adaptation of stage musical In The Heights that turned out not to be so. If you were disappointed that she might not be showing off her musical chops on the big screen any time soon, Steven Spielberg is here to soothe your sadness, as he's recruited her for his new version of West Side Story.

Moreno and the musical are closely linked already, of course, as she won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for playing Anita in the 1961 film adaptation of Arthur Laurents, Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim's Romeo And Juliet-inspired show.

But while she will be back, Moreno is taking on a different role in the new film written by Tony Kushner. The EGOT winner will be Valentina, a re-conceived and expanded version of original corner store owner Doc, who employs one of the main figures, Tony. "Never in my wildest dreams did I see myself revisiting this seminal work," Moreno tells Deadline. “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!"

"From our earliest discussions, we wanted to include Rita Moreno in our production," says Spielberg. "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."

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