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Steven Spielberg casts Rachel Zegler as Maria in West Side Story film

January 16, 2019

Steven Spielberg has cast Rachel Zegler as Maria in his upcoming ‘West Side Story’ adaption.

The 72-year-old director has chosen the 17-year-old New Jersey high school student to make her film debut and take on the iconic role - made famous by Natalie Wood in the original 1961 film -across from Ansel Elgort’s Tony.

The ‘E.T’ director previously insisted that the lead role of Maria in his reboot - which follows the love story of a 1950s Romeo and Juliet who are caught between two New York gangs, the American Jets and the Puerto Rican Sharks, - would exclusively go to a Latina actress.

Spielberg told The Hollywood Reporter: “When we began this process a year ago, we announced that we would cast the roles of Maria, Anita, Bernardo, Chino and the Sharks with Latina and Latino actors. I’m so happy that we’ve assembled a cast that reflects the astonishing depth of talent in America’s multi-faceted Hispanic community. 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.”

Zegler added that she was “humbled” to be offered such a significant role to the Hispanic community and can’t wait to get started.

She said: “I am so thrilled to be playing the iconic role of Maria alongside this amazing cast. West Side Story was the first musical I encountered with a Latina lead character.

“As a Colombian-American, I am humbled by the opportunity to play a role that means so much to the Hispanic community.”

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