Steven Spielberg’s next film, West Side Story, hasn’t had much official news released, except for the casting of Ansel Elgort in the lead. However, the film’s screenwriter, Tony Kushner, recently shared some insight into the remake of the iconic 1961 film.
From Vanity Fair:
“It’s not a straightforward remake [of the movie], but it’s definitely the Jets and the Sharks. It’s New York City. I think people will find a new way to love the story and to love the songs through our interpretation,” said Kushner on the red carpet. “The way I approached it and the way Steven is approaching it is using the great text—the Leonard Bernstein score, which is arguably the most beautiful score ever written for musical theater, and Arthur Laurents’s original book is a masterpiece. And we started building from that.”
Kushner, who also wrote the screenplays for Spielberg’s Munich and Lincoln, explained that the new film will touch upon several themes of urban life in the late 1950s, and how issues of ethnic representation shaped and developed culture in that era. “I don’t know if ‘gritty’ is necessarily the right word, but there are aspects of urban life in ‘57, ‘58, ‘59 that weren’t touched on in the 1961 movie that we are focusing on,” said Kushner.
Kushner also discussed the casting of Elgort:
“He’s a really amazing young actor. We really wanted to cast young, because it’s really a story about teenagers,” said Kushner. “He’s a wonderful singer, it turns out, and a really terrific dancer. Steven went with him, and we’re very excited. I think the rest of the cast is going to be very exciting too.”
Read more at Vanity Fair here.