Last week, we reported that Steven Spielberg was considering Indiana Jones 5 or a remake of West Side Story as his next project with The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara falling on the backburner because Spielberg couldn’t find a child actor capable of carrying the film. Last night, journalist Mark Harris tweeted out a casting call for West Side Story (Harris’ husband, Pulitzer-prize winning playwright Tony Kushner, is writing the film):
— Mark Harris (@MarkHarrisNYC) January 26, 2018
The casting call is looking for actors to play the lead roles of Tony, Maria, Anita & Bernardo. For those who are unfamiliar with West Side Story, it’s a spin on Romeo & Juliet focusing on two gangs where Tony, a member of the Jets, falls in love with Maria, who’s the sister of the leader of the rival gang, the Sharks. There’s also a heavy racial aspect as the Jets are all white while the Sharks are Puerto Rican. As immigration comes to the forefront of discussion in our country, you can see why Spielberg would find the project appealing. Even though Puerto Ricans are American, the plot of West Side Story is how one group believes the other is unworthy of being part of our country.
However, even with this casting call, it’s still not certain that West Side Story will be Spielberg’s next movie. Mortara stalled out over casting concerns, so it’s possible that West Side Story could meet the same fate. That being said, finding a good child actor is a lot harder than finding four talented adults. The larger question, for me, is how Spielberg will tackle the musical genre, which he’s never done before, and especially with a remake of a classic movie. The original West Side Story won 10 Oscars including Best Picture. While I try to make it a point to never underestimate Spielberg, he certainly has his work cut out for him with this one.