Steven Spielberg casts unknown NJ teen Rachel Zegler in ‘West Side Story’

Steven Spielberg casts unknown NJ teen Rachel Zegler in ‘West Side Story’

An unknown 17-year-old high schooler from New Jersey has been plucked from virtual obscurity and will now fill a leading role in Stephen Spielberg's upcoming big-screen adaptation of the enduring and hugely beloved West Side Story.

Teenager Rachel Zegler, from New Jersey, will play Maria alongside The Fault In Our Stars and Baby Driver star Ansel Elgort's Tony, according to U.S. entertainment site Deadline.

"I am so thrilled to be playing the iconic role of Maria alongside this fantastic cast", Zegler said in a statement to Deadline. "'West Side Story' was the first musical I encountered with a Latina lead character".

Zegler wrote, "As a Colombian-American woman growing up in this day and age, strong roles like Maria are so important".

According to Zegler's YouTube channel, she is a self-professed "theatre kid" who works as a wedding singer and has performed in starring roles in onstage productions like "Beauty and the Beast", "The Little Mermaid", "Thoroughly Modern Millie" and others.

Speaking about landing the role Rachel said she is thrilled to be playing the iconic role.

"I'm so happy that we've assembled a cast that reflects the astonishing depth of talent in America's multifaceted Hispanic community", he said.

"I simply can not wait to get on set to work with this group of young actors", said Moreno, who won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role as Anita in the 1961 film. They join the previously-announced Rita Moreno, who is playing Valentina, an expanded and re-conceived version of corner store owner Doc. Maria ends up falling in love with Tony, a member of her brother's rival gang, and since the musical is based on William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, you can probably figure out how this thing ends. Ariana DeBose and David Alvarez will play the roles, respectively.

She also featured in the original cast of "Hamilton". This remake has been a passion project for Spielberg for years, though it remains to be seen if he'll be able to recapture the magic of the first movie, which was nominated for 11 Oscars and won 10, including Best Picture.

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