Rita Moreno is heading back to the West Side.
The actress who won an Academy Award for her work in the original 1961 cinematic adaptation of the hit Broadway musical West Side Story is returning for director Steven Spielberg’s upcoming new version.
In the original film, Moreno played Anita, the strong-willed girlfriend of Bernardo (George Chakiris) who famously helps to belts out the show stopping “America.” (Chita Rivera originated the role on Broadway.) In this new version, she will be playing Valentina, a reimagined version of Doc, the owner of the corner store where the show’s male lead, Tony (to be played by Ansel Elgort in this new version), works.
In a statement announcing the casting, Moreno said –
Never in my wildest dreams did I See myself revisiting this seminal work. 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!
The casting comes as a welcome surprise as just last month the actress was stating that she wouldn’t be appearing in the film.
West Side Story is set to begin filming next summer for an unspecified 2020 release date.