'My West Side Story is a reimagined version': Steven Spielberg

By Express News Service

20th Century Fox India has released an 11-minute conversation between Shoojit Sircar and Steven Spielberg ahead of the global release of West Side Story, Spielberg’s adaptation of the renowned 1957 broadway musical. 

In the chat, Shoojit quizzes Spielberg about summoning the courage to make a musical (the director, in fifty years, has never attempted the genre). Spielberg says he grew up with the original broadway album, and it’s the only musical he would ever have made.

Shoojit also praises the filmmaker on his decision to cast Latinx actors in an age of ‘xenophobia and racism’.  “It was important to me that this film represents the Latinx community,” Spielberg says. “There is not a single Puerto Rican character that is not played by a Latinx performing artist.” 

Spielberg explains he viewed the film not as a remake but as a contemporary ‘reimagining’ of the original classic. West Side Story, originally a stage musical by Leonard Bernstein with lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, was adapted into a 1961 film by Robert Wise. The story follows two rival gangs, the Jets and the Sharks, on the Upper West Side in 50s New York. 

“This musical has been performed thousands of times in community theatre, high schools, colleges, and revivals all over the world,” Spielberg says. “And because it is so liberally reproduced, again and again, every new cast brings a different interpretation. (So) I didn’t feel like I was violating the great classic that the original West Side Story film was by telling this 2021 version.”