By Gwen Aviles
It appears Rita Moreno took the West Side Story lyrics “I’ll never stop saying Maria!” to heart. The award-winning actress recently announced that she will not only be starring in Steven Spielberg’s remake of West Side Story, but she will also be an Executive Producer of the film.
The Puerto Rican actress captured the hearts of audiences with her performance as Anita in the 1959 version of West Side Story, a role which landed her an Academy Award. But in this go-around she will play the role of Valentina, a reimagined version of Doc, the owner of the corner store where Tony works.
Moreno currently portrays Lydia on the hit Netflix show One Day At A Time, a sitcom about a Cuban-American family grappling with immigration, generational differences, PTSD and parental issues. She has also recently appeared as a guest star on Jane the Virgin, Frankie and Grace and Getting On.
Moreno is one of 15 actresses to achieve EGOT status — she’s won an Emmy, a Grammy, and Oscar and a Tony — yet she says she herself is surprised to be returning to West Side Story.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I see myself revisiting this seminal work,” said Moreno in a statement. “And to be asked by Steven Spielberg to participate is simply thrilling! … I am tingling!”
Steven Spielberg envisioned Moreno as part of his West Side Story remake from the beginning. He said he was so moved by her performance as Anita in the original version that he and his team created an original role for her.
This latest version of West Side Story, which was adapted by Oscar-nominated screenwriter and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tony Kushner, will begin filming next summer.