Anton Ansel! Ansel Elgort will never stop saying “Maria.”
The Baby Driver star has been cast as Tony in Steven Spielberg’s remake of West Side Story, producers announced on Monday. Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Tony Kushner adapted the script from the original 1957 Broadway book written by Arthur Laurents, with music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics from Stephen Sondheim. Spielberg, Kevin McCollum, and Kristie Macosko Krieger will produce.
The beloved musical, the original film adaptation of which won the 1962 Best Picture Oscar, is based on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet transposed to late 1950s New York City. It explores the rivalry between two warring street gangs, the white Jets and the Puerto Rican Sharks, amidst simmering racial tensions. Tony adds fuel to the fire when he falls for Maria, the younger sister of the leader of the Sharks, and the two forge a forbidden bond.
The original film starred Richard Beymer as Tony (Larry Kert originated the role in the 1957 Broadway musical) and featured an all-star cast including Natalie Wood, George Chakiris, Rita Moreno, and Russ Tamblyn. Elgort will tackle some of the show’s most memorable songs, including the beloved ballad “Maria” and romantic duets, “Somewhere,” “One Hand, One Heart,” and “Tonight.”
Justin Peck, who won a Tony award for his work on ‘Carousel,’ was recently announced as the film’s choreographer, suggesting the remake will maintain its ties to Jerome Robbins’ ballet-inspired original choreography.
The producers have seen thousands of dancers, singers, and actors across the country over the last several months after putting out a casting call for the remake, specifically noting a call for actors for Tony, Maria, Anita, and Bernardo with the note “must be able to sing” and “dance experience a plus.”
Elgort most recently showed off his natural musicality as the title character in Baby Driver and will next be seen in The Goldfinch. He first broke out as the lead in the teen drama The Fault in Our Stars, which fittingly takes its title from Shakespeare.
Filming is scheduled to begin in summer 2019.