Ansel Elgort Reveals His Biggest "Challenge" Filming West Side Story

By Samantha Bergeson Nov 30, 2021 9:21 PMTags

"One hand, One heart" and a whole lot of practice. 

Ansel Elgort admitted that it took him a few tries to nail the powerhouse ballads behind West Side Story, in theaters Dec. 10. "The songs are great, even though I couldn't sing them perfectly right away," Elgort joked during E! News' Daily Pop on Nov. 30. "But that's good, anything that's a challenge is good, right? It's worth it." 

The "amazing" production, helmed by producer-director Steven Spielberg, took over a year to cast. Spielberg noted that 35,000 audition tapes came in for the key roles of Maria, Tony, Anita and Bernando. 

"Ironically the second person I saw on my first day of casting was Rachel [Zegler]," Spielberg explained at the New York red carpet premiere for the film. 

A then-unknown Zegler landed the lead role of Maria after being selected by Spielberg, and she had no problem stepping into the role opposite Elgort as her love interest, Tony. 

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"You have to work really hard for your characters to buy that love at first sight feeling," Zegler teased. "They made it really easy for us with the lighting and the costumes and the atmosphere and also I spent a lot of time with Ansel because we were rehearsing for so long. It was easy." 

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Plus, original cast member and Oscar winner Rita Moreno was on set to assist the next generation of West Side Story-tellers. 

"For an 88-year-old, she's as agile as anyone else," Elgort gushed. 

Watch the full interview above!

West Side Story premieres in theaters Friday, Dec. 10. 

Watch Daily Pop weekdays at 11 a.m., only on E!.