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Get ready for the 21st century edition of the Jets vs. the Sharks. Steven Spielberg is officially remaking West Side Story, the classic romantic musical about rival gangs in New York City. The script will be written by Tony award winner (and Lincoln screenwriter) Tony Kushner; the cast, however, is still to be determined.

A casting call was recently released, seeking actors to fill in the key principal roles of Tony, Maria, Anita and Bernardo. The announcement explicitly ask for Latinx actors to audition for the latter three, a welcome sign that Spielberg won’t whitewash this story. In the original 1961 film, those three parts were played by Natalie Wood, Rita Moreno (who is Puerto Rican), and George Chakiris. Tony, as always, will be played by a white actor; in the original, Richard Beymer played the role. Actors must be between the ages of 15 and 25, and must be able to sing, naturally. Dance experience is “a plus” for this famously kinetic production, which boasted original choreography from Jerome Robbins (who also co-directed the first film version).

Rumors about Spielberg and Kushner teaming up for a West Side Story reboot have been floating about for the last three years. Deadline first reported the news back in 2014, while Spielberg himself confirmed it much later, in a 2016 interview with The Hollywood Reporter—adding that he’s dreamt of adapting this material “for decades,” and spent 15 years trying to acquire the rights. Now, with a little help from 20th Century Fox, he’s well on his way toward catching that finger-snapping white whale.

West Side Story has loomed large in the pop cultural landscape for the last five decades. A splashy Broadway revival in 2009 drew a mix of praise and confusion when some of its lyrics were translated into Spanish by Lin-Manuel Miranda (working with original lyricist Stephen Sondheim), in order to acknowledge half of the characters’s Puerto Rican roots. Eventually, though, some of those lyrics were converted back to English, after producers realized audience members who didn’t speak Spanish weren’t able to connect with the altered words. While this might have been a difficult trick to pull off on the stage, perhaps Spielberg will be able to try again on the big screen, thanks to the aid of subtitles. According to BroadwayWorld, the casting call explicitly ask for actors who can speak Spanish—a positive sign for those hoping that the story will seem a little more authentic this time around.

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JESSICA CHASTAIN, actor, producer.

With her cherry hair and Creamsicle complexion, Jessica Chastain possesses a classical beauty suitable for Victorian high collars (Crimson Peak), to-the-manor-born hauteur (Miss Julie), heroic archery (The Huntsman: Winter’s War), and parts requiring her to keep her dimpled chin cocked. Chastain has also dived into the netherworlds of counter-intelligence (Zero Dark Thirty) and high-roller underground gambling (Molly’s Game, as real-life “poker princess” Molly Bloom) without losing translucence. On the horizon is perhaps Chastain’s greatest challenge: playing the sainted country-music singer Tammy Wynette in George and Tammy.Photo: Photograph by Kathryn MacLeod.Annie Leibovitz and team observe Jessicas Diehl and Chastain.Annie Leibovitz and team observe Jessicas Diehl and Chastain.Photo: Photograph by Kathryn MacLeod.ROBERT DE NIRO, actor, producer, director.

ROBERT DE NIRO, actor, producer, director.

It is impossible to determine which is more intimidating: Robert De Niro’s scowl, which in his gangster roles signals a beatdown about to ensue (see GoodFellas), or his jack-o’-lantern smile, which indicates he’s going to relish the beatdown about to ensue (see his Al Capone in The Untouchables). Violence isn’t the only language his characters speak, but it is the one in which they are most articulate, especially in the collaborations with Martin Scorsese, which began with Mean Streets and continue today with The Irishman (Netflix), co-starring, among others, Al Pacino (as Jimmy Hoffa!), Joe Pesci, Harvey Keitel, and Bobby Cannavale—ya gotta problem with that?Photo: Photograph by Kathryn MacLeod.*V.F.* features editor Jane Sarkin and Annie Leibovitz review wardrobe options with Jessica Diehl.V.F. features editor Jane Sarkin and Annie Leibovitz review wardrobe options with Jessica Diehl.Photo: Photograph by Kathryn MacLeod.Photo: Photograph by Kathryn MacLeod.Photo: Photograph by Kathryn MacLeod.Photo: Photograph by Annie Leibovitz.PreviousNext

JESSICA CHASTAIN, actor, producer.

JESSICA CHASTAIN, actor, producer.

With her cherry hair and Creamsicle complexion, Jessica Chastain possesses a classical beauty suitable for Victorian high collars (Crimson Peak), to-the-manor-born hauteur (Miss Julie), heroic archery (The Huntsman: Winter’s War), and parts requiring her to keep her dimpled chin cocked. Chastain has also dived into the netherworlds of counter-intelligence (Zero Dark Thirty) and high-roller underground gambling (Molly’s Game, as real-life “poker princess” Molly Bloom) without losing translucence. On the horizon is perhaps Chastain’s greatest challenge: playing the sainted country-music singer Tammy Wynette in George and Tammy.Photograph by Kathryn MacLeod.

Annie Leibovitz and team observe Jessicas Diehl and Chastain.Photograph by Kathryn MacLeod.
ROBERT DE NIRO, actor, producer, director.

ROBERT DE NIRO, actor, producer, director.

It is impossible to determine which is more intimidating: Robert De Niro’s scowl, which in his gangster roles signals a beatdown about to ensue (see GoodFellas), or his jack-o’-lantern smile, which indicates he’s going to relish the beatdown about to ensue (see his Al Capone in The Untouchables). Violence isn’t the only language his characters speak, but it is the one in which they are most articulate, especially in the collaborations with Martin Scorsese, which began with Mean Streets and continue today with The Irishman (Netflix), co-starring, among others, Al Pacino (as Jimmy Hoffa!), Joe Pesci, Harvey Keitel, and Bobby Cannavale—ya gotta problem with that?Photograph by Kathryn MacLeod.

V.F. features editor Jane Sarkin and Annie Leibovitz review wardrobe options with Jessica Diehl.Photograph by Kathryn MacLeod.
HARRISON FORD, actor, producer.

HARRISON FORD, actor, producer.

Amazing how far Harrison Ford’s cocky, goofball grin has traveled since he hot-rodded down the main drag in American Graffiti, a grin that would forge a conspiratorial pact with audiences worldwide. Ford’s space jockey, Han Solo, in the Star Wars saga, and whip-cracking Indiana Jones were—and are—joyous throwbacks to the movie serials of lore, their boyish zeal unextinguished by age, gray, and grizzle. Ford also took on mortal danger with a straight mug as Jack Ryan (Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger), the replicant terminator in Blade Runner, and Dr. Richard Kimble in The Fugitive.Photograph by Kathryn MacLeod.

Annie with the photo team and Michael Shannon (seated).Photograph by Kathryn MacLeod.
V.F. executive West Coast editor Krista Smith interviews Annie about the Hollywood Portfolio for VF.com.Photograph by Kathryn MacLeod.
Detail of Annie’s on-set office, with photo research and blocking plan.Photograph by Matthias Gaggl.
MICHAEL B. JORDAN, actor.

MICHAEL B. JORDAN, actor.

After appearing in a multitude of television series (most impactfully in The Wire), Michael B. Jordan had his big-screen moment of arrival in Ryan Coogler’s Fruitvale Station, a haunter of a film based on a real-life tragedy that illustrated why Black Lives Matter. Since then, Jordan has muscled up into the heavyweight division, literally in Creed and figuratively as Erik Killmonger, not a name to trifle with, in Coogler’s insanely anticipated rollout of the Marvel superhero Black Panther.Photograph by Kathryn MacLeod.

ZENDAYA, actor, singer.

ZENDAYA, actor, singer.

Another Disney sensation who has gone mainstream massive, Zendaya—star of the Disney Channel’s K. C. Undercover—has zapped the sweet spot in pop culture where entertainment, fashion, and social media meet and cross-pollinate. She glammed down to play a dorky misfit in Spider-Man: Homecoming, then twirled up to loop the air as a trapeze artist in The Greatest Showman, as if to say, “Why should Spidey get to do all the swinging?”Photograph by Matthias Gaggl.

The photo team adjusts lighting between shots.Photograph by Kathryn MacLeod.
Gal Gadot arrives on set.Photograph by Kathryn MacLeod.
MICHAEL SHANNON, actor, musician.

MICHAEL SHANNON, actor, musician.

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Everything Michael Shannon is in, he intensifies. As the lawman in Nocturnal Animals, Shannon was an avenging angel in a white Stetson hat; in the keenly anticipated mini-series Waco, a docudrama depicting the siege of the Branch Davidian compound, Shannon’s resolute F.B.I. negotiator faces off against a crackpot messiah (Taylor Kitsch’s David Koresh); and in 12 Strong, he and Chris Hemsworth take on the Taliban. Small or big, there’s no theater of conflict he can’t command.Photograph by Kathryn MacLeod.

Annie sets up the first panel of the cover, with Oprah Winfrey, Tom Hanks, and Reese Witherspoon.Photograph by Kathryn MacLeod.
OPRAH WINFREY, actor, producer, philanthropist.

OPRAH WINFREY, actor, producer, philanthropist.

Oprah enrings the earth. Television host, author, producer, magazine publisher, powerhouse actress (The Color Purple, Beloved, Lee Daniels’ The Butler, Selma, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks), influencer without equal, and the first black woman to win the Golden Globes’ Cecil B. DeMille Award, Winfrey is more than the sum of her accomplishments—she’s a gravitational field that doesn’t press down but lifts up. Everything she does is dedicated to betterment without being didactic or, worse, corny. Will Oprah’s next act be a presidential bid?Photograph by Kathryn MacLeod.

TOM HANKS, actor, producer.

TOM HANKS, actor, producer.

The unfussy integrity, mission resolve, and cool-in-a-crisis humor of Hanks’s Everyman heroes are among Hollywood’s last lingering reminders that we were once a proud democracy, and may still be again. His characters are animated by duty and the common good, not personal glory or Ahab obsession. Whether piloting Apollo 13 back to Mother Earth, Saving Private Ryan, or guiding a planeful of passengers safely onto the drink in Sully, Hanks keeps everything human-scaled and emotionally relatable. In The Post, a sure Oscar contender, he is once again thwarting the forces of suppression and deceit, portraying The Washington Post’s leonine executive editor Benjamin Bradlee, the role Jason Robards rasped into Oscar glory in All the President’s Men. Let the presses thunder!Photograph by Kathryn MacLeod.

Oprah, Reese, and Tom convene.Photograph by Kathryn MacLeod.
GAL GADOT, actor, model.

GAL GADOT, actor, model.

Physically, the Israeli actress, model, and former Israel Defense Forces combat trainer Gal Gadot brought all the right attributes—imposing height and beauty, athleticism, goddessy glamour—to the task of playing Princess Diana, daughter of Hippolyta, better known around the neighborhood as Wonder Woman. But it was a secret power Gadot unsheathed that won the day: charm. In a blockbuster season with so little fun to be had, Gadot’s exuberant high spirits (and Patty Jenkins’s direction) redeemed the DC franchise from its male-menopausal funk. The rest of the Justice League should turn in their trunks.Photograph by Kathryn MacLeod.

REESE WITHERSPOON, actor, producer.

REESE WITHERSPOON, actor, producer.

Fresh from the starting gate, Reese Witherspoon radiated poignant yearning in The Man in the Moon. Only 15 at the time, Witherspoon was a natural on-screen, but a lot of naturals turn unnatural with time; not our Reese. Her special gift is for clear carbonated comedy, most memorably as Legally Blonde’s Elle Woods, whose bunny fluff conceals a snap-crackle-and-pop brain. Rom-coms aplenty followed, girded by dramatic triumphs: country madonna June Carter in Walk the Line and scary momster Madeline Martha Mackenzie in HBO’s smash mini-series Big Little Lies.Photograph by Matthias Gaggl.

NICOLE KIDMAN, actor, producer.

NICOLE KIDMAN, actor, producer.

No matter how many gutsy dives Nicole Kidman takes from the high board in her choices of adventurous roles, directors, and projects (in this decade alone, The Paperboy, The Beguiled, The Killing of a Sacred Deer), the entertainment press insists on propping her on an ivory pedestal and harping on her frosty reserve. More fools they. As an actor, Kidman has never hesitated to get down in the funk. She brought the body heat to Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut, her maternal agon in Birth remains an undiscovered wonder, and she was outright freaky-deaky in The Paperboy. Conquering TV with an Emmy-and Golden Globe-winning splash in HBO’s Big Little Lies, Kidman could rest on her laurels but won’t. This Kid don’t quit.Photograph by Kathryn MacLeod.

GRAYDON CARTER, journalist, producer.

GRAYDON CARTER, journalist, producer.

Graydon Carter and Robert De Niro talk between takes.Photograph by Kathryn MacLeod.

CLAIRE FOY, actor.

CLAIRE FOY, actor.

Quintessential Englishness is the viola Claire Foy plays, usually in period costume. Foy was outfitted with the poshy title of Lady Persephone Towyn in the remake of Upstairs, Downstairs (BBC), lost her head as Anne Boleyn on Wolf Hall (BBC), and was reconstituted for greatness as Queen Elizabeth II on The Crown (Netflix), contending with a moody husband, a lumbering Winston Churchill, a sprawling empire, and the deadweight of protocols and precedents—all while maintaining cameo-brooch composure. In royalty, as in theater, the show must go on.Photograph by Kathryn MacLeod.

Photograph by Kathryn MacLeod.
Photograph by Kathryn MacLeod.
Photograph by Annie Leibovitz.

Yohana DestaYohana Desta is a Hollywood writer for VanityFair.com.

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Vanity Fair

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