Ansel Elgort stopped by The Late Show With Stephen Colbert on Tuesday and chatted about the “unknown” phone call he received from the person who ended up casting him as the lead role Tony in the upcoming film adaption of West Side Story: Steven Spielberg.
The Goldfinch actor told Colbert he’s “pinching himself constantly” while working with the legendary director, who told him he got the role he’d “been fighting for” over the phone. “I get this unknown number, for some reason I answer it, and then they say, ‘Hi Ansel, Steven Spielberg wants to talk to you,’” Elgort recalled. “His tone sort of implied that maybe I wasn’t going to get the role, but I was still so happy that he would call me and tell me I didn’t.”
He went on to say Spielberg “played me,” as he cried to his parents after he received the good news that he was supposed to keep quiet about. Musical theater, as Elgort describes it, has been his “first love” since he saw the musical Oklahoma! at age 4. He went on to musical theater camp for seven years, and when he was 12, he played a role in West Side Story for the first time.
The late-night host brought out two adorable throwback pictures of the “Supernova” singer performing in the musical he would be cast in the film adaption of 13 years later. Elgort re-enacted a snippet of his Officer Krupke scene for the audience, who billowed with applause.
He told Colbert what he’s been practicing more is his ballet technique, which is being perfected by Justin Peck, the film’s choreographer and acclaimed dancer from the New York City Ballet. “It changes your whole body, it fixes your posture, it feels great,” Elgort exclaimed while demonstrating his technique from his chair.
As the 25-year-old star practices his relevé in the bathroom, his girlfriend, professional ballet dancer Violetta Komyshan, critiques him. “She says, ‘You’re rolled too back on your feet, you got to go forward,’” he said.
Although he remained tight-lipped about much of the West Side Story details — “I had a nightmare the other night that I didn’t have a role,” he confessed — he did reveal his favorite song he will perform is “Something’s Coming.”
Check out the interview below.