When you’re a Jet, you’re a Jet all the way — and now we know who’ll play Tony in Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story. Baby Driver star Ansel Elgort has danced into the role originated by Larry Kert on Broadway and played by Richard Beymer in the Oscar-winning 1961 movie.
Inspired by William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story explores forbidden love and the rivalry between the Jets and the Sharks, two teenage street gangs of different ethnic backgrounds. Filming is set to begin in summer 2019.
Tony Kushner wrote the adaptation of the 1957 musical originally written by Arthur Laurents and Stephen Sondheim with music by Leonard Bernstein, and concept, direction, and choreography by Jerome Robbins. Spielberg, Kevin McCollum and Kristie Macosko Krieger will produce the film musical.
Elgort earned a Golden Globe nom for his lead role in last year’s Baby Driver and also starred in the 2014 film The Fault in Our Stars. Next up he’ll lead the upcoming film adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Goldfinch, which will be released in October 2019. Elgort is repped by CAA and manager Emily Gerson Saines.
The casting of Tony is another big move forward for the Spielberg project, coming fast on news that the director has recruited to the team one of Broadway’s hottest choreographers – Justin Peck, whose gorgeous dance work for this year’s Broadway revival of Carousel won a Tony Award.
Peck’s Broadway bona fides, along with the ground-floor involvement of Angels in America playwright Kushner, seems right in keeping for this most New York of all classic stage musicals.
And while Elgort is certainly known for his Hollywood film work, he was born and raised in Manhattan, the son of Vogue photographer Arthur Elgort and opera director Grethe Barrett Holby, and attended Manhattan’s Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School, where he performed in various musicals. The performing arts-focused school, made famous in Fame, is located around Lincoln Square — the arts district built on the demolished tenement neighborhood that was, indeed, the West Side in West Side Story.