Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story Remake Has Cast Its Lead Actor

Ansel Elgort in Baby Driver

With Ready Player One well behind him, Steven Spielberg was next expected to tackle Indiana Jones 5 and have it ready to go by July 2020. However, it was announced this past summer that the next Indy adventure has been delayed to July 9, 2021 due to script issues. Since we'll have to wait even longer for Harrison Ford to don the fedora and wield the whip again, it seems that Spielberg is now turning to his other high-profile project, the West Side Story remake. The movie has taken a major step forward by casting Baby Driver star Ansel Elgort as its male lead.

Performing the same role once occupied by Larry Kert on stage and Richard Beymer in the 1961 cinematic adaptation, Ansel Elgort will play Tony in the West Side Story remake. Steven Spielberg has been spending most of the year looking for the actors to lead his version of West Side Story, and according to THR, there was concern that because the search was taking so long, the remake might be shelved, just like Spielberg's other long-in-development project The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara. But now that Elgort has been secured, West Side Story is on track to start rolling cameras in summer 2019, and presumably we'll learn who's filling out the rest of the cast in the coming weeks and months.

Ansel Elgort rose to prominence in 2014 for his roles in Divergent, The Fault in Our Stars and Men, Women & Children. However, arguably his biggest film role yet was in last year's Baby Driver, which was directed by Edgar Wright and saw Elgort playing a tinnitus-stricken getaway driver who used music to focus. Elgort most recently appeared in Billionaire Boys Club, and next year he'll be seen in The Goldfinch, the adaptation of Donna Tartt's same-named novel. Along with his acting, Elgort has built a solid musical career, and West Side Story will mark his first major opportunity to showcase his singing talents.

Like the original West Side Story stage production (which was written by Arthur Laurents and Stephen Sondheim, with Leonard Bernstein handling the music) and the 1961 movie that followed, Steven Spielberg's take will be a Romeo and Juliet-like tale set in New York City that follows the feuding Jets and Sharks gangs, with Tony part of the Jets and his love Maria being the sister of the Sharks' leader. One would imagine that Maria will be the next character to be cast for this new West Side Story, but we'll have to wait and see. Tony Kushner penned this latest adaptation, and Spielberg, Kevin McCollum and Kristie Macosko Krieger are producing.

West Side Story doesn't have an assigned release date yet, so stay tuned to CinemaBlend for that information and more updates as they come in. For now, look through our 2018 and 2019 release schedules to plan your trips to the theater over the next year accordingly.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore, Adam is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend. He started working for the site back in late 2014 writing exclusively comic book movie and TV-related articles, and along with branching out into other genres, he also made the jump to editing. Along with his writing and editing duties, as well as interviewing creative talent from time to time, he also oversees the assignment of movie-related features. He graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Journalism, and he’s been sourced numerous times on Wikipedia. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.