Rita Moreno will get to relive the experience of filming musical West Side Story. After portraying Anita in 1961’s original version of the movie – and receiving an Oscar for her efforts – Moreno now landed a role in the Steven Spielberg-directed remake as well. The 86-year-old will also serve as an executive producer for the project.
West Side Story is a modern-day Romeo and Juliet story, in which Tony, a former member of the Jets gang, falls in love with Maria, the sister of the leader of a rival Puerto Rican gang. According to Deadline, Rita Moreno will play the character of Valentina in the remake, which serves as a reimagined version of Doc, owner of the store in which Tony works.
Moreno is only the second announced cast member of the West Side Story remake, which will begin filming in summer of 2019, with Ansel Elgort previously joining the project as Tony.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I see myself revisiting this seminal work,” said Moreno in a statement. “And to be asked by Steven Spielberg to participate is simply thrilling! Then to work together with the brilliant playwright, Tony Kushner — what a glorious stew! I am tingling!”
“From our earliest discussions, we wanted to include Rita Moreno in our production,” added director Steven Spielberg. “Her Anita is one of the greatest musical performances ever filmed, and a personal favorite of mine. We created an original role for her, and we feel beyond fortunate that Rita will bring her extraordinary gifts as an actress, as well as her deep understanding of West Side Story to this production as an executive producer.”
Directed by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins, the original West Side Story was released in 1961, receiving praise from both the critics and the audience. The movie ended up receiving 11 Academy Awards nominations, winning 10 of them including the one for Best Picture.
After West Side Story, Rita Moreno went on to star in numerous high profile projects including The Night of the Following Day, Marlowe, The Ritz, and The Four Seasons. She also had roles in several television projects, including 9 to 5, Oz, Law & Order and most recently One Day at a Time.