Every Lead Actor (& Their Most Famous Role)

West Side Story is an iconic musical that has been adapted in many forms many times, but there might not be a version that has fans more excited than Steven Spielberg’s take, which is set to premiere in December of 2021. Throwing it back to 1957, this classic tale will stay true to its core.

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However, of course, there will be modern faces joining the cast and bringing these dynamic characters back to the big screen. From some familiar faces to brand new blood, viewers should get to know the cast before they dive in – by watching some of their best work.

10 Corey Stoll: The Report (2019) – Available On Amazon Video

The Report - Daniel (Adam Driver) sitting across a table from Cyrus (Corey Stoll) in the office

Corey Stoll might actually be one of the more experienced actors joining the cast, and he even has one Golden Globe nomination under his belt. He’s actually a pretty well-known television actor and plays Michael Prince on Billions.

However, if it’s a movie you’re looking for, fans should head over to The Report, where he stars with Adam Driver. This biography crime drama might be a totally different genre, but it’s a hidden gem that surrounds an investigation following post-9/11 CIA protocols. Plus, Stoll is at the front, who will be playing Lieutenant Schrank in Spielberg’s film.

9 Ana Isabelle: Imprisoned (2018) – Available On Amazon Video

Ana Isabelle as Anita, sitting at a table by a beach in Imprisoned

This singer, dancer, and actress is from Puerto Rico, and she’s finally about to star in a blockbuster film directed by Spielberg himself. Back in 2018, though, she joined Laurence Fishburne for the thriller, Imprisoned.

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While this movie didn’t exactly blow critics away, everyone has to start somewhere, and the flick might be a good introduction to get familiar with the potential and talent of Ana Isabelle, who will be playing Rosalia in West Side Story.

8 Jamie Harris: Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes (2011) – Available On Apple TV

Jamie Harris as Rodney, holding a broom in the hall of cages

Jamie Harris has definitely spent time on many sets, from television series to movies, but his most famous might be when he joined the iconic cast and franchise for Rise of the Planet of the Apes. He played Rodney, alongside James Franco and Andy Serkis.

It’s an entertaining and action-packed film where fans can also get acquainted with the actor who will be playing Rory in West Side Story. With stellar reviews and an all-time action classic, this sci-fi movie will never disappoint.

7 Maddie Ziegler: The Fallout (2021) – Not Yet Released On Streaming Platforms

Vada (Jenna Ortega) and Mia (Maddie Ziegler) standing in a school bathroom

This young actress has been a huge internet sensation in the past few years and she got her fame from appearing in Dance Moms. Since then, her career has exploded, from starring in music videos to finally hitting the big screen as an actress.

Before fans get to know her as Velma in this musical, they should get binging The Fallout. It’s a hidden gem, but has great reviews, and Ziegler stars with Jenna Ortega. They play high school students, tackling a school tragedy and the aftermath and how it affects friendships, family, and values. Ziegler’s name will likely only continue to get more and more popular. This movie is pretty new, but it should be hitting streaming services shortly.

6 Ben Cook: Disney’s Newsies: The Broadway Musical! (2017) – Available On Disney+

Ben Cook as Race, sitting with other boys at a table and smoking

If there’s anything fans should be watching in preparation for West Side Story, it’s probably more musicals! Ben Cook will be playing Mouthpiece in Spielberg’s adaptation, and he got his start in this filmed live Broadway performance of Newsies, where he played Race.

RELATED: Hamilton & 9 Other Great Musicals/Plays Based on Real People

With stellar reviews, this high school story is fun and entertaining, and frankly, might be a perfect double-feature with Spielberg’s new movie. Of course, it’s a great way to also get familiar with Ben Cook and all his potential.

5 Brian D’Arcy James: Spotlight (2015) – Available On Netflix

Sacha (McAdams), Mike (Ruffalo) and Matt (d'Arcy James) looking at a computer at the Boston Globe

Brian d’Arcy James might be a familiar face for any movie lover. He’s dabbled in television, including in 13 Reasons Why, and has had prominent roles in big movies, like Molly’s Game. He was also Shrek in Shrek the Musical!

But excited fans should first check out Spotlight. This biography drama is certainly darker than any musical out there, but it’s well worth a watch. James stars with Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, and Rachel McAdams, whose characters all work for the Boston Globe – and try to uncover a scandal of child molestation in the Catholic Church.

4 Curtiss Cook: Roxanne Roxanne (2017) – Available On Netflix

Roxanne Roxanne - Dave sitting on his bed with his lady

This actor is also definitely not a fresh face, but he’s more well-known for small television roles or supporting characters in movies, including Roxanne Roxanne. A biography music drama, it’s a perfect segue to get to know this actor – and fall in love more with music and the genre.

RELATED: Inside Llewyn Davis & 9 Other Amazing Movies About Music

Taking place in the early 1990s, this movie follows Roxanne Shante’s rise to becoming a hip-hop legend on the streets of New York City. Cook has a prominent role in this drama, and will also have one in West Side Story as Abe.

3 Rita Moreno: West Side Story (1961) – Available On Amazon Video

Rita Moreno as Anita, hanging onto a pole in West Side Story

Rita Moreno is an Oscar-winner with over 150 acting credits to her name, so there’s no doubt this film should be a walk in the park for her. She’ll be joining this musical as Valentina. With many television programs to her name, she also dazzles on the big screen.

In fact, she dazzled in the 1961 film adaptation of West Side Story, and there really is no better movie to watch before seeing her again in 2021. She even received her Oscar for her role in it as Anita. There is no better time than now to watch this classic musical movie.

2 Ariana DeBose: The Prom (2020) – Available On Netflix

Ariana DeBose as Alyssa, dancing at the prom in The Prom

This talented young actress is just getting her start on the big screen, but she’s no newbie to musicals. She had a part in the 2020 version of Hamilton, and actually had a pretty prominent role in the Netflix Original, The Prom, as Alyssa Greene.

This musical adaptation has a star-studded cast, and Ariana DeBose is one of the few newbies that get to try her hand at this big-screen version. With bright colors, dazzling outfits, and catchy tunes, The Prom is the perfect movie to get to know this flourishing actress.

1 Ansel Elgort: Baby Driver (2017) – Available On Amazon Video

Ansel Elgort as Baby, holding his music player with sunglasses on

Ansel Elgort might actually be the most famous face joining the cast, and he’ll be leading the film as Tony. While he has many huge roles up his sleeve, there really isn’t a better binge than Baby Driver. In it, Elgort is a getaway driver that relies on music to get him through it all.

With a stellar soundtrack, an impressive cast, and a talented Elgort leading the film, this movie will have fans entertained from start to finish – and waiting more impatiently than ever for the new West Side Story adaptation.

NEXT: 10 Movies To Watch To Get Excited For Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story

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