Plus, Tamblyn reveals two former Jets make cameos in the film.

By Maureen Lee Lenker
May 04, 2021 at 08:02 PM EDT
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When you're a Jet (or a Shark), you're a Jet all the way...

For Russ Tamblyn and George Chakiris, who portrayed rival gang leaders Riff and Bernardo, respectively, in the 1961 West Side Story, that song had held true, linking them to their roles and the Best Picture winner for their entire career.

So, naturally, when the trailer for Steven Spielberg's new take on the musical dropped during the Oscars, fans might have wondered what Chakiris and Tamblyn thought of it.

"I thought it was beautiful," Chakiris tells EW. "I loved that trailer. It did for me what it probably did for everybody, which is: I want to see this."

The two are joining their former costar Rita Moreno on Thursday night for a 60th-anniversary reunion special as part of the TCM film festival. Moreno is both appearing in the new film as an original character, Doc's widow Valentina, and executive producing, so it's safe to say she's excited by the trailer (she features in it, after all).

WEST SIDE STORY
West Side Story
| Credit: Everett Collection

"It'll be so wonderful to in fact get to see it because I've always been so sure from the first time we even heard that Steven Spielberg was thinking about this — I thought if anybody's going to do this, it should be him because he will do something wonderful," Chakiris adds. "I'm so sure of that. I'm excited as anybody in looking forward to this."

Tamblyn echoes Chakiris, saying he's "really looking forward" to seeing the new movie after the trailer. But he also acknowledges what a massive legacy their West Side Story leaves for the new film to live up to. "Spielberg was just a huge, huge, huge fan of our movie and thought it was the best musical ever made," Tamblyn says. "He told me that. And we'll see what he does with it. He had a lot of work to do to come up to meet our film."

Moreno isn't the only 1961 cast member who'll be making an appearance. Tamblyn revealed to EW that two of the Jets from the film, Harvey Evans, who portrayed Mouthpiece, and Bert Michaels, who played Snowboy, have cameos. "There were at least two Jets that I knew that were part of my gang that worked on the movie as extras," Tamblyn explains. "Or they had like one line here and another one had another line, so Spielberg included everybody that he could in the film."

Whether or not that "everybody" might include a surprise appearance from either Tamblyn or Chakiris, we'll have to wait and see. All we know is that in their estimation, something's coming, something good.

The West Side Story 60th anniversary reunion airs Thursday on TCM at 8 p.m. ET and will also be available on HBO Max.

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