The 1961 movie was based on the Broadway musical of the same name and according to Playbill, it has been a dream of Spielberg’s to remake it for decades. The originalfilm won ten Academy Awards, including Best Picture. It was directed by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins, and with music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and a screenplay by Ernest Lehman based on the libretto by Arthur Laurents.
A casting call was sent out seeking actors to fill in the key principal roles of Tony, Maria, Anita, and Bernardo. The announcement explicitly asks for Latin actors to audition for the latter three, a welcome sign that Spielberg won’t whitewash this version like the original where three parts were played by Natalie Wood, Rita Moreno (who is Puerto Rican), and George Chakiris. Tony will be played by a white actor. (In the original, Richard Beymer played the role.) Actors must be between the ages of 15 and 25, and must be able to sing and dance. According to BroadwayWorld, the casting call explicitly ask for actors who can speak Spanish —a positive sign for those hoping the story will seem a little more authentic this time around.
Star making roles for some well-knowns or unknowns.