Corey Stoll and Brian D'Arcy James have come aboard Steven Spielberg's West Side Story. Many an eyebrow was raised back in 2014, when Spielberg revealed that he was giving serious thought to re-adapting the West Side Story stage musical to the big screen. After all, Robert Wise's 1961 film adaptation of the show not only won a whopping ten Oscars (including Best Picture), it's still regarded as one of the greatest cinematic musicals of all time. But, then again, this is Spielberg we're talking about, and if any filmmaker's capable of delivering a worthwhile new take on the classic romance-meets gang vs. gang drama, it's one of his pedigree.
Unsurprisingly, Spielberg has had little trouble putting together a top-notch cast and crew for his West Side Story retelling. The film is being written by Pulitzer Prize-winner Tony Kushner (who also wrote Spielberg's Munich and Lincoln) and has so far assembled a cast that includes established musical talents like Ansel Elgort (Baby Driver), several up and coming musical theater performers with professional Broadway experience, and even the 1961 West Side Story's Oscar-winning costar, Rita Moreno. Spielberg has now added two prolific (and celebrated) character actors to their ranks as well.
According to Deadline, Stoll and D'Arcy James have been set to play Lt. Schrank and Sgt. Krupke, respectively, in Spielberg's West Side Story. The former of those characters is the hard-edged detective tasked with trying to keep the peace between the rival NYC gangs the Jets and the Sharks in the story, whereas the latter is the abrasive cop who's typically more than happy to try and provoke the gangs' members into starting a fight with him.
As mentioned, Stoll and D'Arcy James are both acclaimed performers who have appeared in far too many recent films and TV shows to do justice by here. Coincidentally, they also appeared in Damien Chazelle's Neil Armstrong memoir First Man last year, with D'Arcy James playing X-15 test pilot Joseph A. Walker and Stoll (in a scene-stealing turn) bringing the legendary Apollo astronaut Buzz Aldrin and his sardonic sense of humor to life. It's especially fitting that D'Arcy James has joined Spielberg's West Side Story, given that he's previously starred in such hit stage musicals as Hamilton and Shrek the Musical, along with Broadway renditions of plays like Macbeth. In fact, he's currently working on a version of Jez Butterworth's 2017 play, The Ferryman.
Speaking of D'Arcy James: his character, Sgt. Krupke, is famously the subject of ridicule in one of West Side Story's more well-known songs, "Gee, Officer Krupke" (where the Jets mock him for, well, being himself mostly). Part of the reason why Spielberg tackling West Side Story is so intriguing - in addition to the factors mentioned earlier - is that he's never directed a full-blown musical before, so no one really knows how he'll go about staging iconic numbers like "Gee, Officer Krupke", "I Feel Pretty", "America", and so forth. Needless to say, we're excited to see what he comes up with.
West Side Story begins production this summer, but doesn't have a release date yet.