|WEST SIDE STORYMICHAEL JACKSON|
One of the biggest films arriving later this year during the Christmas movie season is Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story.” While Spielberg and screenwriter Tony Kushner the director’s collaborator on “Munich” and “Lincoln,” plus the playwright behind “Angels in America” are behind the latest film adaptation of the 1957 musical, the director tells Vanity Fair in a new first look at the movie that he was adamant about ensuring his “West Side Story” remain authentic to the Puerto Rican experience. Spielberg says that’s the only reason he wanted to make “West Side Story” for a 2020 audience.
“This story is not only a product of its time, but that time has returned, and it's returned with a kind of social fury,” Spielberg says. “I really wanted to tell that Puerto Rican, Nuyorican experience of basically the migration to this country and the struggle to make a living, and to have children, and to battle against the obstacles of xenophobia and racial prejudice.”
Unlike Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins’ Oscar-winning 1961 movie adaptation, which cast a number of white actors in makeup to play Puerto Rican characters, Spielberg only wanted Hispanic performers to play the Hispanic characters in his film. Spielberg tells Vanity Fair that at least 20 of the 33 Puerto Rican characters in his “West Side Story” are “specifically Puerto Rican or of Puerto Rican descent.”
“They brought an authenticity,” Spielberg says. “They brought themselves, and everything they believe and everything about them — they brought that to the work. And there was so much interaction between the cast wanting to be able to commit to the Puerto Rican experience. They all represent, I think, a diversity, both within the Puerto Rican, Nuyorican community as well as the broader Latinx community. And they took that seriously.”
Directing “West Side Story” as a Caucasian filmmaker also meant Spielberg was open to listening to suggestions from his Hispanic cast members. Rita Moreno won an Oscar for playing Anita in the 1961 movie and stars in Spielberg’s 2020 adaptation as a newly-created character. Spielberg made Moreno an executive producer on the film and “urged her to share her perspective” with him and the young cast. Moreno tells Vanity Fair she wanted in on Spielberg’s “West Side Story” so she could right some of the wrongs of the 1961 film, including the whitewashing. The actress said, “That's what they were trying to fix and ameliorate, and I think they have done an incredible job.”
During one scene in which white cops attempt to break up a fight between the Sharks and the Jets, Moreno stepped in to tweak the reactions of the characters because she...
The 'Home Alone' star is nearly 40 and says life could not be better in his first in-depth interview in years.
For the first time in many years, Macaulay Culkin agreed to an in-depth magazine profile in which it appears no topic was off-limits.
From discussing his abusive father to his former drug use, the iconic child star, known the world over from the Home Alone films, was an open book for an interview with Esquire that was published Tuesday.
Towards the middle of the lengthy profile, accumulated over days worth of interviews, is a section on Michael Jackson, the late King of Pop whose name was in headlines again last year — a decade after his death — after two men accused the musician of molesting them when they were kids in the HBO documentary, Leaving Neverland.
Culkin was no doubt buried in requests for comment and reaction to the doc as it was well known he and Jackson were friends in his youth and spent a decent amount of time together. Culkin also famously testified in defense of Jackson in 2005 when the singer was charged with molesting a 13-year-old boy who had cancer. Jackson was eventually acquitted.
That was the last time to two ever spoke, in that courthouse, Culkin told Esquire, explaining there was a recess and Culkin was in the restroom when Jackson happened to enter.
“We better not talk. I don't want to influence your testimony," Jackson said, according to Culkin, who added they then laughed at the moment.
As for whether he was ever abused or saw any abuse at the hands of Jackson, Culkin made it clear: No.
“Look, I'm gonna begin with the line—it's not a line, it's the truth: He never did anything to me," Culkin told the magazine. "I never saw him do anything. And especially at this flash point in time, I'd have no reason to hold anything back. The guy has passed on. If anything—I'm not gonna say it would be stylish or anything like that, but right now is a good time to speak up. And if I had something to speak up about, I would totally do it. But no, I never saw anything; he never did anything."
Culkin is the godfather of Jackson's daughter, Paris. The two talk often, he said and have matching tattoos.
Life is good for the actor, who will turn 40 this year. He told Esquire that he is happy with his life, his love actress Brenda Song, with whom is he trying to have a child and their animals.
But he did talk about his past drug use, which he said almost got out of control, but led him to where he is now.
“I played with some fire, I guess is the best way to put it," Culkin said. "At the same time, I've never been to rehab or anything like that. I've never had to clean out that way. There were certain times when I had to catch myself,...