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West Side Story Cast: Where You've Seen The Actors Before

Ariana DeBose dancing as Anita in West Side Story
(Image credit: Disney/ 20th Century Studios)

Steve Spielberg’s version of West Side Story has been a long time in the making, but it comes with plenty of amazing casting choices, beautiful set design, and wonderful music. With all the good reviews that it has been getting, West Side Story is destined to be remembered, and, in my opinion, will end up becoming another classic. 

And, with such a talented cast, you must have seen the actors somewhere before. If faces might look a little familiar, it’s for good reason. From veterans of the Broadway stage, to performers just starting out, and an original cast member from the 1961 movie, the West Side Story cast is full of stars. Here is where you might have seen them before.   

Ansel Elgort in West Side Story.

(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

Ansel Elgort (Tony) 

Playing Tony in West Side Story is Ansel Elgort. He has been in the business for a little under a decade now, and has only continued to expand his repertoire of films. 

Since 2013, Elgort has had roles in several movies, such as the horror movie remake, Carrie, the romantic drama, The Fault in Our Stars, played a major role in the Divergent movie series, and had the main role in the action thriller, Baby Driver. Elgort also had roles in movies like Billionaire Boys Club, The Goldfinch and more. 

With his leading role in West Side Story, I’m sure it’ll only be a matter of time before we see him on the big screen again. 

Rachel Zeglar in West Side Story.

(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

Rachel Zegler (Maria) 

Maria is the lovely leading lady of West Side Story, and she is portrayed by Rachel Zegler. Originally, she made strides on YouTube by posting videos of her singing, but now, this is her first major movie role, showing just how much of a talent she is. 

After her role in West Side Story, Zegler is already poised to play Snow White in Disney's live-action adaptation of the classic fairytale, which is an upcoming Gal Gadot movie, and will also be appearing in Shazam! Fury of the Gods. Talk about starting off your career right. This certainly won’t be the last time you hear her name. 

Ariana DeBose in West Side Story.

(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

Ariana DeBose (Anita)

Anita is the best friend of Maria, and the girlfriend of Bernardo, and is played by the lovely Ariana DeBose. The actress is a talented women both on stage and off, and has shown the world not only with her wonderful acting talents, but her vocal ones, as well. 

For years, DeBose starred in several musicals, including Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton, A Bronx Tale, and Summer: The Donna Summer Musical. But soon, she transitioned her career from stage to screen. She starred in the Ryan Murphy musical The Prom on Netflix in 2020, and was a in the Schmigadoon! cast as part of one of the best Apple TV+ shows

DeBose is already set to star in several projects after her appearance in West Side Story, including two movies, titled I.S.S. and Argylle. And, I for one can’t wait to see her again.  

David Alvarez (middle) in West Side Story.

(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

David Alvarez (Bernardo)

Bernardo, the brother of Maria and the boyfriend of Anita, is played by David Alvarez. The actor gained acclaim for his portrayal of Billy Elliot in the titular musical, Billy Elliot the Musical, and then also went on to star in On the Town. 

For some time, Alvarez actually joined the U.S. Army, but once he was done, he moved his career to television, playing Isaac English in American Rust on Showtime. West Side Story is Alvarez’s first ever big movie role, so after this, who knows what we might see the young actor do next. With as much talent as he has, I’m sure he’ll go far. 

Mike Faist in West Side Story.

(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

Mike Faist (Riff)

For every Tony, there must be a Riff, and he is played by Mike Faist in West Side Story. Faist, like many of his other castmates, made his strides on Broadway, originating the role of Connor Murphy in Dear Evan Hansen, and playing the part of Morris Delancey in Newsies. 

However, he also moved his career to movies as well, appearing in several films, such as the drama/coming of age movie, The Unspeakable Act, the tragedy The Grief of Others, and the horror fantasy, Wildling. Faist has also had some success in television as well, playing Dodge Mason in the Amazon original series, Panic, with a couple of guest roles on TV, as well. 

Rita Moreno in West Side Story.

(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

Rita Moreno (Valentina) 

If you’re seeing that name and wondering why on earth it looks so familiar, that’s because it should be. There are many great Rita Moreno movies and TV shows, and she actually played Anita in the original 1961 West Side Story, winning an Academy Award for her role. After that, Moreno went on to have a long and successful career. 

She's appeared in a variety of movies, such as the comedy-drama, Carnal Knowledge, alongside Jack Nicholson, the romantic drama, The Four Seasons, the cult film, Slums of Beverly Hills, and many, many others. She’s also had bigger roles in television as well, including her part in the HBO original series, Oz, voicing the titular character of Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego?, playing the matriarch of the main family in One Day at a Time on Netflix, and had a main role in the sitcom, Happily Divorced. 

Truly, she’s a master of her craft, and it’s so lovely to see her return to this world of West Side Story. While she’s not playing Anita, I love seeing her as Valentina and will always adore what she did for this musical, and her iconic character. 

brian d'arcy james spotlight

(Image credit: Open Road Films)

Brian d’Arcy James (Officer Krupke)

You gotta love Officer Krupke, always trying to keep the peace as best he can. In West Side Story, Office Krupke is played by Brian d’Arcy James, another veteran from Broadway who has taken his career to the big and small screen. 

In theater, James has had major roles in Shrek the Musical (playing the titular character), Something Rotten!, Hamilton, and more. However, he’s also had some prominent roles in movies and TV. In film, he appeared in movies such as Friends with Kids, Spotlight, Sisters, Molly’s Game, First Man, and Dark Phoenix.

On television, he had a major role on the Netflix original series, 13 Reasons Why for two seasons, and played Frank Houston on Smash. He also played Mark Giuliano in the miniseries, The Comey Rule.

Corey Stoll in Ant-Man.

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Corey Stoll (Lieutenant Schrank) 

The partner to Office Krupke, Lieutenant Schrank, is played by Corey Stoll in West Side Story. Stoll has made strides in the television industry, having major roles in several big-time shows. These include, but are not limited to, playing Congressman Peter Russo in House of Cards, Dr. Ephraim Goodweather on the FX drama/horror series, The Strain, Michael Prince on the Showtime series, Billions, having a main role on Law & Order: LA, and many guest appearances. 

Stoll has also had a pretty prominent acting career in movies, too. He played Darren Cross in Ant-Man for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, had roles in Midnight in Paris, Black Mass, First Man, and the HBO original movie, The Many Saints of Newark. With such a multi-faceted career, it’s great to see him taking on this role in West Side Story. 

Josh Andres Rivera (middle) in West Side Story.

(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

Josh Andres Rivera (Chino) 

Poor Chino is the underused soul of West Side Story who was supposed to be Maria’s perfect match, but ended up getting lost in all the fuss about Tony. Chino is played by Josh Andres Rivera, who (like Rachel Zeglar herself) is also a newcomer to Hollywood. 

West Side Story is Rivera’s first major role in Hollywood, followed by two other projects he has already set up. For someone so talented, I can’t wait to see what he does next. 

Iris Menas in West Side Story.

(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

Iris Menas (Anybodys)

Anybodys was a character in the original film whom I didn’t quite understand when I was younger, but now it makes so much sense, and she was perfectly portrayed in West Side Story by Iris Menas, a young non-binary performer who had their first big movie role with this musical. 

Menas has been in other projects before, including a main role in Ridley Jones, and a voice role in Madagascar: A Little Wild. However, it’s exciting to see them step into the spotlight as this iconic character from the original musical and film, and I can only wonder what they’ll do next. 

West Side Story is certainly one of the best 2021 movies, in my opinion, and that’s thanks to this brilliant cast and all their amazing acting - along with their wonderful director. 

Alexandra Ramos
Alexandra Ramos

Big nerd and lover of Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire. Will forever hate season eight. Superhero and horror geek. And please don't debate me on The Last of Us 2, it was amazing!