Ariana DeBose Details 'Thrilling' Experience Filming Steven Spielberg's 'West Side Story' (Exclusive)

With an illustrious career spanning more than four decades between dramas and science fiction, acclaimed director Steven Spielberg finally gets to make his first musical with the highly-anticipated West Side Story, hitting theaters before the holiday season this year on Dec. 10. Boasting a young, talented cast, the beloved musical reboot also stars Apple TV+'s Schmigadoon! star, Ariana DeBose, who told PopCulture.com how excited she was about the holiday release.

"It is an iconic musical," DeBose told PopCulture. "I can't say enough about it. It's almost hard to put into words. It was thrilling, it was terrifying, but it was one of the most profound and fulfilling experiences that I've ever had. And we talk about spoiled — I had this at the beginning of my career, my film career, I'm hoping that I get the honor of continuing to make movies and television shows alike and go back to the stage."

west-side-story-behind-the-scenes-ariana-debose
(Photo: Gotham / Getty Images)

Best known for roles in Hamilton as part of the featured ensemble and Netflix's The Prom with her Schmigadoon! co-star, Keegan-Michael Key, DeBose goes on to sing Spielberg's praises as well as his the film's playwright, Tony Kushner. "[It's] absolutely stunning and I think it's [...] a classic being made for a new generation. Everyone that goes to see it will find something that they connect to and I think it's something we can all be proud of," she said. "I really can't wait for people to see it."

West Side Story also stars Ansel Elgort, David Alvarez, Rita Moreno and newcomer Rachel Zegler as Maria, previously played by Moreno in the 1961 version of the movie. The 2021 version will likely follow more closely to the 1957 Broadway musical, which is loosely based on William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Filming of West Side Story took place in 2019 and was set to be released in December 2020. However, Disney pushed the movie back to Dec. 10 of this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the 1961 film.

As fans wait for West Side Story to be released, they can currently see DeBose in the critically acclaimed Apple TV+ series Schmigadoon! DeBose plays Emma Tate and is working with an all-star cast that includes, Key, Cecily Strong and Kristin Chenoweth. "I will say this cast was really exciting to me. I'm a huge fan of Cecily Strong, not just from SNL, but how she walks through the world and things she advocates for," DeBose stated. "I love the way she uses her voice in the world. I think she shines like the star that she is in Schmigadoon! Keegan; Kristin Chenoweth, Broadway icon, Broadway royalty; in tandem with folks like Alan Cumming, come on. You don't get better than Alan Cumming; Fred Armisen; Jaime Camil; Jane Krakowski for that matter. In addition to my homegirl Dove Cameron and my sister Ann Harada."

0comments

She adds how she shouts their names "because they are so legendary" in their own right thanks to a career that has boasted acclaim and fan fervor. "They are legends in their own time and we were a group of people who came together and we made something during a time that was very challenging, actually," she said. "We made this during the pandemic and somehow we showed up for each other, we supported each other. And you have a really incredible product with these incredibly diverse faces, telling these beautiful stories, challenging us to think and to move forward in the world in a different way perhaps, and I just think that's the coolest thing ever."