Steven Spielberg wraps 'stunningly moving' West Side Story shoot with sweet message
Oscar-winning director shared new photos and a message of gratitude on the final day of filming.
West Side Story (2021 film)
What was just an urban world is now a star of Steven Spielberg‘s new movie.
The Oscar-winning director announced Wednesday he wrapped production on his upcoming movie adaptation of the beloved musical West Side Story just after midnight on Saturday, Sept. 28, further sharing a sweet message of gratitude to his cast, crew, and the city of New York, which provided a backdrop for the Ansel Elgort-starring film’s multi-month shoot.
“This has been a journey without precedence: a joyful, stunningly moving, endlessly surprising encounter with the story and score of one of the world’s greatest musicals. My brilliantly talented, fiercely committed, generous and apparently inexhaustible cast and crew of hundreds have given our film everything they’ve got, and already I can say that the film we’ll be releasing on December 18, 2020 owes everything to them, as does its immensely grateful director,” Spielberg wrote in a note of gratitude on social media.
The 72-year-old went on to thank Arthur Laurents, Leonard Bernstein, and Stephen Sondheim — the men behind the original 1957 Broadway production — for their inspiration, singling out Sondheim for his “insight, guidance, and support” in making the project.
Spielberg also shared three new photos from the set, showing him posing with cast members Elgort and newcomer Rachel Zegler (who play the central couple, Tony and Maria) as well as Rita Moreno, who previously won an Oscar for her performance in the 1961 film version by Jerome Robbins and Robert Wise.
According to Spielberg’s note, the production filmed across New York City with an additional three weeks of production in Paterson, New Jersey.
“The city lent us its beauty and its energy, and we drew deeply upon its grand, multicultural, multifaceted spirit,” he explained. “To the people of New York and Paterson, thanks not only for putting up with our trailers, tents, cranes, and mid-street dance sequences; from the bottom of my heart, thanks for the warm welcomes we encountered everywhere, from pedestrians and policemen and neighborhoods and kids. We couldn’t have made our musical without you.”
Set in 1950s New York City, West Side Story chronicles a rivalry between two gangs, known as the white Jets and the Puerto Rican Sharks. Their conflict comes to a head when prominent Jets member Tony (Elgort) falls in love with Maria (Zegler), the sister of the Sharks’ leader.
Oscar-nominated writer Tony Kushner (who wrote Spielberg’s Lincoln) penned the film’s script, while Tony winner Justin Peck choreographed the project.
West Side Story — also starring Corey Stoll, Ariana DeBose, David Alvarez, Brian d’Arcy James, and Maddie Ziegler — dances into theaters on Dec. 18, 2020.