Steven Spielberg Discusses West Side Story Diversity [EXCLUSIVE CLIP]


Steven Spielberg discusses the diversity in West Side Story in this exclusive video clip from the film’s upcoming home entertainment release.

in honor of West Side Story’s home entertainment release, Screen Rant can share an exclusive clip in which director Steven Spielberg discusses how he wanted to portray the diversity within the film. Based on the 1957 play by composer Leonard Bernstein and playwright and composer Stephen Sondheim, West Side Story focuses on the rivalry between two warring street gangs — the Jets (white teens) and the Sharks (Puerto Ricans) in 1950’s New York City, and their star-crossed lovers, Tony and Maria.

While Spielberg’s resume has grown fairly diverse over his career, West Side Story is his first musical. The famed director has stated that West Side Story was always a musical he wanted to adapt, “since [he] was 10 and listened to the original Broadway cast album.” He also stated that it is his “favorite musical” and sharing it with his children from him meant it was only a “matter of time” before he made his own adaptation


Related: Why Maria Forgives Tony in West Side Story

This exclusive clip from the upcoming home entertainment release of 20th Century Studios’ West Side Story features an interview with Spielberg as he talks about how he wanted to approach diversity in the film. More specifically, he discusses that while Jerome Robbins, director, producer, and choreographer of the original stage production of West Side Story, wanted to keep the Sharks and the Jets from socializing off stage, Spielberg wanted the cast to enjoy each other and the richness of the diversity that was happening by bringing the two sides together in rehearsal. Spielberg also expresses the joy he has experienced working on the project, something that does not happen with every film. The clip also features actor Mike Faist, who portrays the Riff in the film, who calls Spielberg a “perfect artist” due to the fact that after all of his years in the industry, Spielberg remains a student, which Faist calls “infectious.”

The original film adaptation of West Side Story was released in 1961 to critical acclaim from critics and viewers. It went on to become the highest-grossing film of the year and won ten of the eleven Academy Awards for which it was nominated, including Best Picture. Spielberg’s adaptation has also been showered with praise from critics. It has received seven nominations for the upcoming 94th Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and was named one of the top ten films of 2021 by the National Board of Review and the American Film Institute. It also received four nominations at the 79th Golden Globe Awards, winning three, including Best Picture – Musical/Comedy, Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical for Rachel Zegler, and Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture for Ariana DeBose.

The home entertainment release of West Side Story brings home not only 13 memorable songs, but comes stocked with a considerable number of Bonus Features:

The Stories of West Side Story

  1. Opening – Director Steven Spielberg begins the journey of one of his career goals – to direct his own cinematic version of the iconic musical. Doing so means he will embrace enormous challenges.
  2. Prologue – From the iconic finger snaps to the complex choreography, we are introduced to the film’s opening scene and explore its setting. We begin to see Spielberg’s vision of him taking shape.
  3. Sharks & Jets – Meet the actors who play the Sharks and the Jets. Go behind the scenes of “La Borinqueña,” the song of the Puerto Rican Revolution, which was added into this vision of the story. Discover the deeper meaning of “Jet Song.”
  4. Dance At The Gym – Mambo your way through “The Dance At The Gym” and Justin Peck’s choreography, as it leads to the pivotal moment when Tony and Maria meet for the first time.
  5. TheRomance – Explore the budding romance of Tony and Maria with the songs “Maria” and “Tonight” as Rachel Zegler (Maria) and Ansel Elgort (Tony) talk about the casting process, and what led them to this career-defining film.
  6. America – During a sweltering New York heatwave, the cast and crew take the production to the streets for one of the biggest dance numbers in the film, “America,” featuring Ariana DeBose, who plays Anita.
  7. Gee, Officer Krupke – Spielberg and the Jets make “Gee, Officer Krupke” their own through a new setting, vocal direction, and choreography, while they explore the meaning of Stephen Sondheim’s lyrics. Get to know Iris Menas (Anybodys) and the significance of her role.
  8. Cool – During the first week of production, Spielberg and the cast nervously jump into filming on the elaborate and challenging set of the musical number “Cool.”
  9. From Quintet to The Rumble – Spielberg and his team navigate the intertwining scenes of “The Quintet” and “The Rumble.” Once there, they take a scene that is traditionally stylishly choreographed and instead bring a more visceral authenticity to the fight between the two gangs.
  10. I Feel Pretty – Screenwriter Tony Kushner sheds new light on “I Feel Pretty.” We see how, in Spielberg’s film, the beloved song by lyricist Stephen Sondheim is given new vision, as it is set and performed within Gimbel’s department store.
  11. somewhere – Hollywood Legend Rita Moreno, who won acclaim for playing Anita in the 1961 film, returns as Valentina, a shopkeeper’s widow, as well as an executive producer. She brings extraordinary experience and emotion to the film and sings the song “Somewhere.”
  12. ending – In a moving testament to the talented cast and crew of WEST SIDE STORY, Spielberg reluctantly wraps “one of the best filmmaking experiences” of his career.
  13. tribute – The late Stephen Sondheim reflects on his career and experience making WEST SIDE STORY in this dedication to the esteemed lyricist.

Next: Why Rita Moreno Almost Rejected Playing Anita In 1961’s West Side Story

West Side Story is available on Digital, 4K Ultra HD™, Blu-ray™, and DVD.

Tom SchwartzKatie Maloney

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