Baby Driver star Ansel Elgort has nabbed the male lead in Steven Spielberg’s take on West Side Story.
He will play Tony, a role first portrayed by Larry Kert in the original 1957 Broadway musical. Richard Beymer played the role in the classic 1961 movie.
Oscar nominated screenwriter and Pulitzer Prize winner Tony Kushner has written the adaptation of the 1957 musical originally penned by Arthur Laurents and Stephen Sondheim with music by Leonard Bernstein.
Spielberg has spent the better part of the year looking for stars for his movie, with actors needing to be able to sing, dance, and, of course, act their hearts out for the story that transposes Romeo and Juliet into a 1950s New York setting featuring white and Puerto Rican gangs.
The search was taking so long that Hollywood observers worried the project would be shelved, just as casting challenges for Speilberg to shelve The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara. The production looked at thousands of actors and dancers in New York, Los Angeles, Miami and Puerto Rico with many thinking Spielberg would cast an unknown.
Elgort’s casting now puts West Side Story firmly on track for Summer 2019 start of production.
Elgort, who showcased some of the needed chops in Driver, will play the tragic Tony, who was once in the white gang known as the Jets and falls in love with Maria, the sister of the leader of the Sharks, the Puerto Rican gang.
The New York-born actor broke out by breaking hearts in the weepie drama The Fault in Our Stars. His next outing will be in The Goldfinch, the adaptation of the Donna Tartt novel, that will be released in Oct. 11, 2019.
He is repped by CAA and manager Emily Gerson Saines.
This article was originally published by The Hollywood Reporter.