NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – New York opened the red carpet on Monday for the premiere of “West Side Story.”
The film was directed by Steven Spielberg and stars the newly arrived Rachel Zegler, from Hackensack, New Jersey, as Maria.
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“I can not believe this is my life. Really, I can not, every day. As if I look around and there is this huge poster with my face and I say “Who is he?” said Zegler.
The film also stars Ariana DeBose as Anita.
“I fervently believed that my performance and because I was a black woman, I had something to offer to this role that people had probably never seen before,” DeBose said.
PHOTOS: West Side Story premieres in New York
According to CBS2’s Mary Calvi, Spielberg was among them at Monday night’s premiere. Also in attendance was Rita Moreno, who won an Oscar for her role as Anita in the 1961 film version and has a cast in the new film.
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“I asked Rita if she would play Valentina because she was the best person on the planet to play that role and in the process of meeting Rita, I realized what a value it would be for the community. “We have chosen all the Latinx actors to portray the Shark girls and boys,” said Spielberg.
Zegler talked about how the film has been updated all these years later.
“The reality of 1957 in Manhattan was not good for people from low-income communities. So the debate over gentrification is very open. “This is such an important part of our film,” he said.
The cast also paid tribute to the lyricist for the original stage production and film, the late Stephen Sondheim. He died on Friday at the age of 91.
“It is very sad that he can not be here tonight, but the good news is that his work will last very, very, very long and will be an inspiration to so many. “It’s definitely for me,” said actor Brian d’Arcy James, who plays cop Krupke in the film.
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“West Side Story” premieres on December 10 in cinemas across the country.
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