Yesterday, additional casting was announced for the highly anticipated film adaptation of West Side Story from director Steven Spielberg. Paloma Grace-Lee was cast as Graziella, the girlfriend of the Jets’ member Riff, who will be played by Dear Evan Hansen’s Mike Faist.
The 1961 musical drama film WEST SIDE STORY was directed by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins. The film is an adaptation of the 1957 Broadway musical of the same name, which in turn was inspired by William Shakespeare‘s play Romeo and Juliet. It starred Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer, Russ Tamblyn, Rita Moreno, and George Chakiris.
BroadwayWorld had the chance to talk with Paloma Grace-Lee about the news, and her big year starring in Moulin Rouge and FOSSE/VERDON as well!
How long ago did you find out that you were cast?
I don’t remember the exact date, but it was at the end of November, early December.
That must be hard to have to keep to yourself for so long!
I’ve been awaiting today for a long time.
When do you start rehearsals for West Side Story?
I start next month, but I’m about to be in a giant balancing act, because I start rehearsals for Moulin Rouge in two weeks.
Between West Side Story, Moulin Rouge, and Fosse/Verdon, you must really be excited about what you’ve had going on this year!
It’s been really, really thrilling to be a part of this and such iconic dance pieces too. I am so fulfilled and just like lit up about art right now. These three projects, it’s what dreams are made of. I feel I am so present in this moment and I’m in such a cool place in my life and my career where like these opportunities are not lost on me. I wake up so grateful and I am training so hard so that I can just show up in these moments and be present. These productions in their own rights are such like thrilling pieces that are happening, but then the trifecta happening right now is so cool.
You’re a part of three of the most anticipated works of 2019 and not many people can say that they’re apart of all three.
I just keep having these washes of just feeling so lucky. All of this is happening, timing is an amazing thing. This is all happening at the moment in my life where I feel so ready. Putting a gigantic new musical up on its feet and balancing filming is going to prove a demanding task. So I’m trying to train for that.
How excited are you to be working with Steven Spielberg?
There actually isn’t a word that describes the feeling of bliss and thrill. And especially Graziella, that’s an absolute dream role. And to be playing her on this scale with this team, with Steven Spielberg, Tony Kushner, Justin Peck, I am so present and excited to dig into this work.
Having Steven Spielberg working on the film, it’ll allow new audiences to see West Side Story in 2019 and these amazing performers are doing in a different medium that they may not be used to, but someone like Spielberg can bring it into the mainstream.
I couldn’t imagine a better team, it’s incredible and in incredibly safe hands with the people putting this up We get to introduce west side story to a new generation, it’s such an exciting moment And I agree, with West Side Story, Fosse/Verdon, and the In the Heights movie we are getting to share this medium in with a whole new audience and it’s so exciting.
It’s a great time to have these stories come back in a different way.
I cannot wait to dig in to this part, which is such a dream role. And I’m such a fan of Mike Faist, I don’t know him personally, but I cannot wait to meet him. I’m a fan of his work and his style and I’m so excited to create this role with him. Riff and Graziella are just the iconic dance theater duo and I can’t wait to work together, to start dancing together, and just develop this together.