Disney and 20th Century Studios have debuted the official trailer for Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story.” The project, based on the iconic Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim musical of the same name, casts “Baby Driver” star Ansel Elgort and newcomer Rachel Zegler as star-crossed lovers Tony and Maria, respectively. Anticipation for the film is high, as the 1961 film adaptation of the musical was a cultural juggernaut with 10 Oscar wins, including Best Picture. Spielberg’s “West Side Story” is written by frequent collaborator Tony Kushner, who earned screenwriting Oscar nominations for penning the director’s “Munich” and “Lincoln.”
The official “West Side Story” synopsis from 20th Century Studios reads: “‘West Side Story’ tells the classic tale of fierce rivalries and young love in 1957 New York City. This reimagining of the beloved musical stars Ansel Elgort (Tony); Rachel Zegler (María); Ariana DeBose (Anita); David Alvarez (Bernardo); Mike Faist (Riff); Josh Andrés Rivera (Chino); Ana Isabelle (Rosalía); Corey Stoll (Lieutenant Schrank); Brian d’Arcy James (Officer Krupke); and Rita Moreno (as Valentina, who owns the corner store in which Tony works). Moreno — one of only three artists to be honored with Academy, Emmy, GRAMMY, Tony, and Peabody Awards – also serves as one of the film’s executive producers.”
“This story is not only a product of its time, but that time has returned, and it’s returned with a kind of social fury,” Spielberg told Vanity Fair last year. “I really wanted to tell that Puerto Rican, Nuyorican experience of basically the migration to this country and the struggle to make a living, and to have children, and to battle against the obstacles of xenophobia and racial prejudice.”
Spielberg only wanted Hispanic performers to play the Hispanic characters in his film. According to the filmmaker, 20 of the 33 Puerto Rican characters in his “West Side Story” are “specifically Puerto Rican or of Puerto Rican descent.”
“They brought an authenticity,” Spielberg said. “They brought themselves, and everything they believe and everything about them — they brought that to the work. And there was so much interaction between the cast wanting to be able to commit to the Puerto Rican experience. They all represent, I think, a diversity, both within the Puerto Rican, Nuyorican community as well as the broader Latinx community. And they took that seriously.”
The Walt Disney Company will release “West Side Story” in U.S. theaters on December 10, 2021. Watch the official trailer below.