Spielberg worked around ‘West Side Story’ star’s high school musical schedule

Rachel Zegler

West Side Story star Rachel Zegler is sharing her experience of making her film debut role as María in the forthcoming Steven Spielberg remake of the 1957 classic. The musical centers around star-crossed lovers from rival factions who are divided both by competing New York gangs and racial barriers.

Despite the production for the film taking place prior to the COVID-19 pandemic⏤over the summer of 2019 and largely in New York City⏤Spielberg was very graciously accommodating when it came to being flexible with his shooting in order to work around Zegler’s preexisting schedule.

It wasn’t a health matter or a family emergency that Zegler needed to attend to, but rather a commitment she made to her high school’s production of Shrek the Musical.

Zegler broke it all down in a recent interview with Good Morning America, saying that one of the first things out of her mouth upon beating out over 30,000 other auditionees for the role of María (in a year-long casting process) was, “Can I still do Shrek the Musical at my high school?”

According to Zegler, Spielberg was quite cordial with his response: “I produced the original Shrek, of course you can do Shrek the Musical at your high school!”

“And I did, and they actually altered the rehearsal schedule around for me, so I was able to do it, which was amazing,” Zegler continued.

The interview segment even included a hilarious clip of Zegler in Shrek the Musical as Princess Fiona, dancing and singing to an inflatable deer prop, in a wholesome moment that made the star blush with apparent embarrassment.

Further props must be given to Zegler for keeping her word to her classmates despite what could easily have been a temptation to cancel all of her social obligations so as not to spoil her once-in-a-lifetime role. We must also give credit to Spielberg for letting the high school-aged star engage in some normal high school-aged activities before skyrocketing to fame for starring in his highly-anticipated remake of one of the biggest musicals of all time.

West Side Story comes to theaters Dec. 10 and you can bet that it’s going to be another Spielberg smash.