The legendary filmmaker Steven Spielberg returned to theaters with his acclaimed take on West Side Story. The movie was a critical hit, and was nominated (and won) a number of honors throughout Awards Season. But there was a controversy surrounding the project due to the accusations made against Tony actor Ansel Elgort. And now his co-star Rachel Zegler explains how constantly being asked about said accusations during the press tour affected her mental health.
Back in 2020, Ansel Elgort was accused of sexually assaulting a 17-year-old in 2014. He denied this, claiming the relationship was consensual. Following this, a Twitter user claimed Elgort sent her nude photos when she was under age. This came after West Side Story had wrapped filming, and was a cloud that seemed to follow the movie’s press tour. Rachel Zegler was asked about the accusations a number of times, recently opened up to Elle about how hard it was at the time. As the Golden Globe winning actress explained,
While press tours are notoriously grueling for talent, Rachel Zegler’s time doing this for West Side Story seemingly had its own emotional weight to it. It sounds like being asked by journalists about Ansel Elgort’s controversy was triggering for the actress, particularly given her age. And there’s no telling how many of these interviews occurred.
For his part, Ansel Elgort was also on the press tour for West Side Story, doing on camera group interviews about his work with Steven Spielberg and company. There’s been no charges against the Baby Driver actor, who maintains he was innocent of any wrongdoing. And since the musical movie hit theaters, Elgort has also celebrate the release of a new HBO Max series, Tokyo Vice. He’s also an executive producer on the project.
Later in Rachel Zegler’s same interviews, she further explained how uncomfortable and disappointing it was to be asked about Ansel Elgort’s sexual assault allegation– which really has nothing to do with her. She explained how it mirrors the struggles of being a woman in Hollywood, in her words:
Now that Rachel Zegler has finally been honest about these complicated feelings about Ansel Elgort and West Side Story, hopefully the 20 year-old New Jersey native will be able to move past them. Professionally she’s got a number of thrilling movie projects lined up including Shazam 2, playing the title character the new Snow White, plus the animated movie Spellbound. And with a Golden Globe in hand, there’s no telling where her career might go.
Rachel Zegler can be seen in Shazam! Fury of the Gods on December 16th, while West Side Story is now available to stream from home. Be sure to check out the 2022 movie release dates to plan your next movie experience.
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Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Graduated with degrees theater and literature from Ramapo College of New Jersey. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid. He's particularly proud of covering horror franchises like Scream and Halloween, as well as movie musicals like West Side Story. Favorite interviews include Steven Spielberg, Spike Lee, Jamie Lee Curtis, and more.