Starring in “West Side Story” again was an emotional experience for Rita Moreno.
The 90-year-old actress is on the new cover of Town & Country, and in the issue she talks about starring in Steven Spielberg’s remake of the movie that won her an Oscar over 60 years ago.
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Commenting on the pin she wore to the interview that read “No whining,” Moreno says, “That’s my badge for the day, when something amuses me or affords me the opportunity to tell people to shut the f**k up.”
On coming up in the industry as a young immigrant woman, she says, “When I started out, I wanted to be an actress in the movies. I wanted to be a star. That’s all I wanted out of life from the time I was five. Legacy is not something I associate with myself, and I never related to it. I don’t relate to it now. I don’t know—that’s a word I always associate with white people. It’s like a $50 word.”
Despite being back in the spotlight, thanks to “West Side Story”, Moreno says she’s still waiting to get calls for more acting work.
“I still don’t have what I want. People aren’t exactly knocking my door down, you know. This ‘West Side Story’ connection is wonderful, but that’s just one job,” she says. “That’s not ongoing work. That’s not somebody saying, ‘There’s this part in the script that I think would be just wonderful for you. Would you consider it?’ It’s not happening.”
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Moreno also admits to hesitating when Spielberg approached her to star in his remake, worried that the role was just a cameo.
“I thought, Okay, be nice, Rita. You be polite. I said, ‘I don’t want to tell you how to make your movies but I just don’t do cameos,’” she says, but Spielberg assured her, “Tony [Kushner] wrote this for you.”
The actress also gets one of the signature moments in the film, singing the classic song “Somewhere”.
“When I read the script for the first time and I saw the song and I read the lyrics, I started to cry. I burst into tears,” Moreno says.
As for her connection to the character of Valentina in the film, Moreno says confidently, “I don’t think she taught me anything that I don’t know. She didn’t teach me anything I don’t know, because I know a lot. If anything, Valentina would take lessons from me, because I am more sophisticated, and I’ve been around more than she, and I could dance circles around her.”