Steven Spielberg is 71 but has a stacked few years ahead. Before he enters the world of DC comic books with "Blackhawk", Spielberg is set to go into production and direct the fifthIndiana Jones movie, with a 75-year-old Harrison Ford, and his long-delayed, but now in pre-production, adaptation of David I. Kertzer's "The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara" but up next is a Tony Kushner-penned remake of the classic musical “West Side Story.”
What does this tell me? It basically confirms that Spielberg has all but left the mini Howard Hawkes phase he had recently ("Lincoln," "Bridge of Spies," and "The Post") and is aiming for the masses again. He was supposed to start shooting the long-delayed "The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara" but that has been put on the back-burner, for now, as "Ready Player One" was chosen instead of it.
Back to "West Side Story," Spielberg auditioned close to 30,000 people to find his four leads, which have now been announced. Deadline has the exclusive:
"After auditioning more than 30K people from around the world, Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story has found its Maria in fresh face 17-year old New Jersey High School student Rachel Zeglerwho will make her film debut opposite Ansel Elgort as Tony. Rounding out the principal Shark roles are Broadway veterans Ariana DeBose as Anita and David Alvarez as Bernardo. Theater performer Josh Andrés Rivera has been cast as Chino. Spielberg and his team were committed to finding the best actors within the Puerto Rican as well as the broader Latinx community. The team has been conducting research and having conversations with Hispanic heritage and advocacy groups."
"In December 2018, Spielberg and Tony Kushner, who is adapting West Side Story, sat with professors and students at the University of Puerto Rico (Universidad de Puerto Rico – Río Piedras) to learn more about performing arts on the island. The production team maintains a dialogue with the University and Puerto Rican filmmakers there."
"I’m so happy that we’ve assembled a cast that reflects the astonishing depth of talent in America’s multifaceted Hispanic community,” said Spielberg. “I am in awe of the sheer force of the talent of these young performers, and I believe they’ll bring a new and electrifying energy to a magnificent musical that’s more relevant than ever.” “I simply cannot wait to get on set to work with this group of young actors,” said Moreno. “What an ensemble, and I look forward to passing the baton to this next generation of Sharks!”