Entertainment

The Key Roles For ‘West Side Story’ Have Been Cast And Maria Is Being Played By A Latina

Broadway and “West Side Story” fans have been waiting for the announcement of who will be playing the key roles in Steven Spielberg’s remake of the classic. The wait is over and we now know who will be on the big screen as Maria, Anita, Bernardo, and Chino. Everyone can rest easy because all of the actors taking up these roles are, in fact, Latino giving the remake a little more authenticity than the original. Ansel Elgort will play Tony. Here’s what we know so far.

High school senior Rachel Zegler landed the lead role of Maria.

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Zegler is a high school senior at Immaculate Conception High School in Lodi, New Jersey. The teenager was a viral sensation with her singing videos on social media.

According to Deadline, Spielberg was intentional in making sure the everyone cast in the movie was Latino or Latina to showcase the talent within the Latino community.

Zegler shared her excitement on Twitter because who wouldn’t be excited to be cast as Maria.

“I am so thrilled to be playing the iconic role of Maria alongside this amazing cast,” Zegler told Deadline. “West Side Story was the first musical I encountered with a Latina lead character. As a Colombian-American, I am humbled by the opportunity to play a role that means so much to the Hispanic community.”

Broadway veteran and powerhouse Ariana DeBose will play Anita.

arianadebose / Instagram

The Puerto Rican performer first made a name for herself on “So You Think You Can Dance” when she made it to the Top 20 in 2009. Since then, DeBose has been performing for theaters around the country and even performed in an off-Broadway production of “Hamilton.”

Oh, and Rita Moreno will be there to “pass the baton” to the new Maria.

Can you even believe it? Moreno is going to be in Spielberg’s “West Side Story” in the role of Valentina. Valentina will be a more expanded version of Doc who owns the store that Tony works in.

Tony Award winner David Alvarez has been cast as Bernardo, Maria’s cousin.

davidalvarezofficial / Instagram

The military veteran won his Tony for Best Actor in a Musical for his role in “Billy Elliott: The Musical”. He told Deadline that he sees the same struggle in Bernardo as he does in his family who fled Cuba for the U.S. and has dreamt of filling this role.

Jose Andrés Rivera is going to be playing Chino.

joseandresrivera / Instagram

The Puerto Rican dancer, singer, and actor is most known for his recent participation on the last national Hamilton tour.

There is no release date for the movie yet but it is expected to start filming this summer.


READ: One Rumor On Twitter Has The Internet Debating If Camila Cabello Can Act Well Enough To Be In ‘West Side Story’

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Salma Hayek Speaks Out About Filming The Sex Scene In ‘Desperado’ Calls It Traumatic

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Salma Hayek Speaks Out About Filming The Sex Scene In ‘Desperado’ Calls It Traumatic

Salma Hayek is not putting her efforts of the #MeToo movement behind her. In fact, her most recent disclosure about her experience filming the 1995 movie Desperado proves she has yet to lose momentum. While the graphic film grossed $25.4 million in the United States box office and received rave reviews, Hayek says it wasn’t all great.

During a recent appearance on Dax Shepard’s Armchair Expert podcast, Hayek opened up about her breakout role.


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Speaking about her experience Hayek explained that she had not known at the time that she did not know she had been signedup to film a sex scene with costar Antonio Banderas.

“So, when we were going to start shooting, I started to sob, ‘I don’t know that I can do it. I’m afraid,'” Hayek said in the interview with Shepard. “One of the things I was afraid of was Antonio — he was an absolute gentleman and so nice, and we’re still super close friends — but he was very free. It scared me that for him, it was like nothing. I started crying, and he was like, ‘Oh my God. You’re making me feel terrible.’ And I was so embarrassed that I was crying.”

Speaking more about the experience, Hayek underlined that Banderas and director Robert Rodriguez tried their best to make her feel comfortable on set. She also added that she felt as if Rodriguez “never put pressure” on her.

Still, Hayek says that the experience was traumatic.

“I was not letting go of the towel,” Hayek explained. “They would try to make me laugh. I would take it off for two seconds and start crying again. But we got through it. We did the best with what we could do at the time.”

“When you’re not you, then you can do it. But I keep thinking of my father and my brother,” she went onto explain. “And are they going to see it? And are they going to get teased? Guys don’t have that. Your father will be, ‘Yeah! That’s my son!'”

Hayek and Banderas have remained friends since filming and they have gone on to star in five other projects.


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In fact, just last year, Hayek presented Banderas with an award at the Palm Springs International Film Festival. Banderas was honored for his role in Pain & Glory with the International Star Award.

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In New Documentary, Rita Moreno Talks the Racism, Sexism, and Discrimination She Faced in Her 70-Year Career

Entertainment

In New Documentary, Rita Moreno Talks the Racism, Sexism, and Discrimination She Faced in Her 70-Year Career

Credit: Bettmann / Getty Images

The new documentary “Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It” premiered at the virtual Sundance Film Festival on Friday. As you can probably guess, the film focuses on the indomitable EGOT-winning icon Boricua.

According to the film’s director, fellow Boricua Mariem Pérez Riera, the movie is supposed to offer a stripped-down and intimate portrait of the real Rita Moreno.

“We always knew that we wanted this documentary to not be just a showreel of her career and how great she is,” Pérez Riera told NBC News.

“When I make or watch a documentary, I want to be able to know that person more than just what I already know, so it was very important for me to go deeper and to understand her as a human being.”

Pérez Riera also explains how she was attracted to 89-year-old Moreno as subject because she related to Moreno’s struggles with discrimination and insecurity.

“I related to all she was saying, her stories about discrimination, the insecurities she felt because of the way others perceived her, the complicated love relationships, and the constant need to work three times harder to prove to others that she is worthy,” the filmmaker said.

Much of the documentary focuses on Moreno’s struggle against a racist and sexist industry that repeatedly pigeonholed and underestimated her.

At the start of her career, Moreno was only cast in roles of ambiguously brown characters–Native American, Filipino, Hawaiian, and Thai.

“I wanted to turn the parts down, but that’s all that was offered and I had to make a living,” Moreno reveals in the film. “I was kind of stuck.”

The documentary also features dozens of interviews of Moreno’s friends, fans, and previous co-workers, including Morgan Freeman, Gloria Estefan, Eva Longoria, Justina Machado, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and her “West Side Story” co-star, George Chakiris. Many of them reflect on the impact Moreno made on Hollywood.

Although Moreno has always been proud of her Puerto Rican heritage, she struggled with her sense of self-worth in Hollywood.

“When I went to Hollywood, I really learned where I stood in the world, and it was so sad and frustrating,” Moreno explained in an interview with the LA Times while promoting the documentary.

“There is something so awful about, if you were a performer, asking your agent to submit you for something and the people won’t even see you because they think you’re too Spanish or something. It’s so frustrating and you want to run and knock their door down and say: ‘Look, let me read this scene for you. I’m good. I’m really good. Let me. Watch me. Listen to me.'”

“Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It” will air on PBS soon as part of their American Masters series. Details about premiere date and time TBD.

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