"I am so thrilled to be playing the iconic role of Maria alongside this wonderful cast", said Zegler, who will star opposite Ansel Elgort as Tony, Ariana DeBose as Anita, David Alvarez as Bernardo, Josh Andrés Rivera as Chino and Rita Moreno (Anita in the 1961 film) as Valentina: a re-conceived and expanded version of the character of Doc, the owner of the corner store in which Tony works.
Zegler joins a quartet of Latinx actors who will be playing key members of the Sharks, with three other members being portrayed by Broadway stars: Tony victor David Alvarez will play Maria's brother Bernardo, Tony nominee Ariana DeBose will play Anita, and Josh Andres Rivera will play Chino. Theater performer Josh Andrés Rivera has been cast as Chino. They join the previously-announced Rita Moreno, who is playing Valentina, an expanded and re-conceived version of corner store owner Doc. Moreno will also be an executive producer of the film, reports Deadline.
"I am so thrilled to be playing the iconic role of Maria alongside this fantastic cast", Zegler told Deadline. "I'm so happy that we've assembled a cast that reflects the astonishing depth of talent in America's multifaceted Hispanic community".
The casting team for the remake put out a call online for Latin actors that received over 30,000 submissions.
Steven Spielberg has just found his girl named Maria: fresh-faced Rachel Zegler, who went viral last December with a Twitter video of her singing a Gaga-worthy clip of "Shallow." .
Zegler wrote, "As a Colombian-American woman growing up in this day and age, strong roles like Maria are so important".
Spielberg's adaptation, which will be based off the original musical and not the 1961 film of the same name, isn't due to start production until later this year.
Ansel Elgort has been cast as her love interest in the adaptation of the 1957 Broadway musical that retells "Romeo and Juliet" with NY street gangs.
With music and lyrics by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim, the movie won ten Oscars, including Best Picture.
Natalie Wood, who played Maria in the film, was of Russian descent.
Spielberg, Kevin McCollum, and Kristie Macosko Krieger will produce the film musical, which will be released by Twentieth Century Fox.