Baby Driver star Ansel Elgort has landed himself the leading role of Tony in Steven Spielberg’s forthcoming adaptation of West Side Story.
Based on the Broadway musical, the story focuses on the rivalry between the Jets and the Sharks, two teenage street gangs. The story is inspired by William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.
Pulitzer prize winner and Oscar nominee Tony Kushner has penned the remake.
The original stage musical included music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and was set in the Upper West Side neighborhood in New York City in the mid 1950s, an ethnic, blue-collar neighborhood (in the early 1960s, much of the neighbourhood was cleared in an urban renewal project for Lincoln Center, which changed the neighbourhood’s character).
The stage show was first adapted for film in 1961 and was directed by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins. It starred Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer, Russ Tamblyn, Rita Moreno, and George Chakiris. It was deemed “culturally significant” by the United States Library of Congress and was selected for the National Film Registry in 1997.
Producers have auditioned thousands of actors and dancers in New York, Los Angeles, Miami and Puerto Rico in recent months. Spielberg’s latest directing projects were Ready Player One and the Oscar-nominated The Post, starring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks.
Elgort who played the lead in Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver, also starred in The Fault in Our Stars, a role on which he was nominated for a Golden Globe. His upcoming projects include Jonathan and The Goldfinch.
Filming is due to commence in Summer 2019.