All that gangly dancing around Atlanta in BABY DRIVER has paid off big-time for Ansel Elgort, who has been cast in Steven Spielberg‘s remake of the Stephen Sondheim musical, WEST SIDE STORY. Variety reports that Elgort will take on the role of Tony, former member of the Jets who falls in love with Maria, younger sister of rival gang leader Bernardo. Much knife-fighting and pirouetting ensue.
Spielberg has been trying to find time for the musical for years now, flip-flopping his focus between the remake script by Oscar-nominee Tony Kushner and INDIANA JONES 5. Spielberg started looking for his WEST SIDE STORY cast earlier this year, but the movie has been on his mind since at least 2014, when he called the production “one of the greatest pieces of musical literature” with “one of the greatest scores and some of the greatest lyrics ever written for a musical.”
The original 1957 Broadway production garnered six Tony nominations—but one for Larry Kert, who played Tony—and was then adapted for the big screen in 1961 by Robert Wise and original stage director Jerome Robbins. The film adaption absolutely cleaned up at the Academy Awards, receiving 11 nominations and winning ten, including Best Director for Wise and Robbins along with Best Picture.
Elgort’s casting is a bit of a hit-or-miss situation; Tony is a pretty pivotal role and Elgort has, on occasion, been indistinguishable from an actual block of balsa wood. But BABY DRIVER did prove that a great director like Edgar Wright can bring a certain sense of quiet charisma out of the actor. If Spielberg can make JAWS with a broken mechanical shark, he can work magic with Elgort, too.