After multiple delays due to the coronavirus pandemic, Steven Spielberg’s hotly-anticipated remake of West Side Story has finally landed in cinemas – and it’s as much of a success as fans of the musical could have hoped for.
Spielberg has collated an impressive cast for the film, featuring Ansel Elgort as Tony and Hollywood icon Rita Moreno, who starred as Bernardo’s girlfriend Anita in the 1961 West Side Story. In Spielberg’s remake, Moreno plays a new role under the name of Valentina.
Meanwhile, complete newcomer Rachel Zegler plays Maria. The singer-songwriter had no previous screen credits and was scouted for the movie after posting a video of herself singing I Feel Pretty from the musical on social media.
Elsewhere, Ariana DeBose, who starred in the original Broadway cast of Hamilton in 2015, takes on the role of Anita, while David Alvarez portrays Sharks leader and Maria’s brother Bernardo.
Spielberg’s West Side Story earned three trophies at the Golden Globes Awards 2022 on Sunday 9th January, including the award for the Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, while Zegler was named Best Actress in the genre and DeBose also took home a trophy for Best Supporting Actress in the category.
Read on for everything you need to know about the cast – including who they’re playing and where you might have seen them before.
Rachel Zegler plays María
Who is María? A young Puerto Rican girl, who defies the wishes of her family when she falls in love with Tony.
What else has Rachel Zegler been in? This is Zegler's first major role – having been cast following an open audition process. She had previously achieved success on social media and has already secured a couple of major roles for the future – playing Snow White in Disney's upcoming live-action remake and bagging a supporting role in Shazam!: Fury of the Gods.
Ansel Elgort plays Tony
Who is Tony? A former member of the Jets street gang, Tony is an idealist who is striving for a better future following a short prison spell, and now works at a drug store owned by Valentina. He falls in love with María when he spots her at a dance.
What else has Ansel Elgort been in? Elgort has appeared as a lead in a number of prominent Hollywood productions – including The Fault in Our Stars, Baby Driver and The Goldfinch. He also had a supporting role as Caleb Prior in The Divergent Series and will lead the cast of the upcoming HBO Max series Tokyo Vice.
Ariana DeBose plays Anita
Who is Anita? María's best friend, Anita is in a relationship with Bernardo – María's brother.
What else has Ariana DeBose been in? DeBose first rose to fame as a contestant on the reality contest So You Think You Can Dance, before embarking on a successful Broadway career, appearing as part of the ensemble in Hamilton and being nominated for a Tony for her lead role in Summer: The Donna Summer Musical. Her only previous major movie role was in Netflix musical The Prom, while she also has a main role in the Apple TV+ series Schmigadoon!.
David Alvarez plays Bernardo
Who is Bernardo? Bernardo is Anita's boyfriend and María's brother, who serves as the leader of the Sharks – a Puerto Rican street gang in a feud with the Jets.
What else has David Alvarez been in? West Side Story marks a feature film debut for Alvarez, but he has recently been seen as part of the cast of Showtime series American Rust. He's also achieved plenty of stage success – becoming one of the youngest ever Tony Award winners for his turn as Billy Elliot back in 2009, and starring in a 2015 production of On the Town following a brief stint in the US Army.
Mike Faist plays Riff
Who is Riff? Tony's best friend and the leader of the Jets, Riff desperately wants Tony to return to the gang.
What else has Mike Faist been in? Faist has a number of film credits to his name – including The Unspeakable Act, The Grief of Others, I Can I Will I Did, and Wildling – but this marks his most notable big-screen role to date. He also has a successful Broadway career, the highlight of which has been originating the role of Connor Murphy in Dear Evan Hansen, a performance that earned him a Tony nomination.
Rita Moreno plays Valentina
Who is Valentina? A new character for this version, Valentina replaces Doc as the owner of the drug store where Tony works. A Latinx widow who was married to a white man, she dreams of racial harmony and serves as a mentor to Tony and the other boys.
What else has Rita Moreno been in? Moreno will need no introduction to West Side Story fans – she previously played Anita in the 1961 film, and won an Oscar for her iconic performance. And that's just one highlight of a superb screen career, with other prominent credits including roles in Singin' in the Rain, The King and I, Popi, Carnal Knowledge, The Four Seasons, I Like It Like That, and Slums of Beverly Hills. She also had a supporting role as Sister Peter Marie Reimondo on the HBO series Oz and has a wealth of stage credits to her name – including a Tony-winning performance as Googie Gomez in The Ritz.
Brian d'Arcy James plays Officer Krupke
Who is Officer Krupke? Krupke is a beat cop who has frequent interactions with both the Jets and the Sharks – none of whom are very keen on his interference.
What else has Brian d'Arcy James been in? You might recognise d'Arcy James for his turn as Andy Baker in 13 Reasons Why, while previous film credits include Ghost Town, Spotlight and First Man. He's also a revered stage actor, with highlights from his Broadway career including playing Shrek in Shrek The Musical, Nick Bottom in Something Rotten!, King George III in Hamilton, and Quinn Carney in The Ferryman.
Corey Stoll plays Lieutenant Schrank
Who is Lieutenant Schrank? A plain-clothes police detective who serves as Krupke's superior.
What else has Corey Stoll been in? On the big screen, Stoll's career highlights include playing Ernest Hemingway in Midnight in Paris and roles in Black Mass, Ant-Man, First Man, and The Many Saints of Newark. He's also a regular presence on TV screens, having starred as Congressman Peter Russo on House of Cards, and had recurring roles on Law & Order: LA and The Strain.
The cast also includes: Josh Andrés Rivera (Cat Person) as Chino, Iris Menas (Ridley Jones) as Anybodys, Mike Iveson (Orange is the New Black) as Glad Hand, Jamila Velazquez (Empire) as Meche, Annelise Cepero as Provi, Yassmin Alers (Across the Universe) as Lluvia, Jamie Harris (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D) as Rory and Curtiss Cook (Narcos) as Abe.
West Side Story is set to be released on 10th December – read more about the West Side Story soundtrack, check out our Movies hub for more news and features and find something to watch now with our TV Guide.