With Steven Spielberg‘s West Side Story remake taking centre stage after Indiana Jones 5 was pushed back, fans were naturally fan-casting the biggest roles in the classic musical. There were probably hundreds of potential actors rumoured to play Tony, but it might be a good bet that one of them was not Ansel Elgort. But that’s exactly who Spielberg has cast.
Elgort showed off his dancing chops in Edgar Wright‘s Baby Driver, and that is likely what persuaded Spielberg to cast him as Tony, a former member of the Jets who falls in love with Maria, the younger sister of rival gang leader Bernardo. Well choreographed knife-fighting and synchronised gang attacks ensue.
Spielberg has been trying to get this remake off the ground for years, having been on his mind since at least 2014 when he called the production “one of the greatest pieces of musical literature”. The original 1957 production earned six Tony nominations, and was then adapted into a film in 1961 by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins, when it won ten Academy Awards.
Bringing Elgort on board is an intriguing choice, and will likely divide fans. Clearly he can move when a great director is helming a project, but Tony is a pivotal role, and much of the reason Elgort worked well in Baby Driver was because he didn’t have to perform much actual dialogue. He’ll definitely have more on his plate this time.
Then again, the original casting of Richard Beymer as Tony was controversial, as he beat out Warren Beatty and Burt Reynolds for the part, just to name a few.
With musicals in a revival of sorts, Spielberg’s West Side Story will be a very big deal. As one of the most famous musicals of all time, as well as a classic film, it will be hard to top. But if anyone can rival the originals, it’s Spielberg…and Elgort?