'Most delightful family affair I have had since E.T.'
Filmmaker Steven Spielberg said that working on the adaptation of 'West Side Story' was a 'delightful family affair' and as enjoyable as the making of his beloved 1982 sci-fi children's classic 'E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial'.
An adaptation of the famed 1957 Broadway musical of the same title, the movie has premiered to praise for Spielberg's nuanced take on the period story and its depiction of the love story between Rachel Zegler and Ansel Elgort's Maria and Tony, whose ill-fated romance fans the bitter rivalry between local New York street gangs - the Sharks and the Jets.
Recalling the experience of working on the film, the 74-year-old director said though he had 'three left feet', he would jump out of his chair during rehearsals.
"I did jump out of my chair and I did singing and danced for the cast, singing off-key and dancing like I had three left feet during rehearsals," Spielberg said during a global press conference.
He added, "We did four-and-a-half months of intensive rehearsals, both in the city at Lincoln Center and in Brooklyn in a place called Dumbo there and that is when I was able to jump out of my seat. Rita Moreno was there too and was dancing with the cast. We were so influenced or compelled to get up on our feet. It was such a life in the air, song and dance."
Spielberg said while the rehearsals saw everyone dancing and singing, during the filmmaking process, he was just attentive to the actors.
"And I did not even tap my foot. I was just too focused on the monitor, on what we were getting and what images we were capturing. But this was the most delightful family affair I have had since 'E.T.'. 'E.T.' had felt like I was a dad to all those kids. And certainly, I was not a dad in my real life. My first child was born three years after I directed 'E.T.'," he shared.
The director added, "And this was the next time I had that kind of feeling that I was part of a very diverse family. I was not in the center of the family - I was simply a part of the family."