Rita Moreno On Steven Spielberg Convincing Her To Return For His West Side Story Remake - Exclusive

Rita Moreno has had a simply jaw-dropping career to date, and she's one of the few people in the world to have achieved EGOT status, meaning that she's netted an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony. Moreno  took home the Best Actress in a Supporting Role Academy Award in 1962 for her role in "West Side Story," so when she agreed to star in Steven Spielberg's remake of the musical, fans were excited.


Moreno is currently appearing in Lifetime's "Santa Bootcamp," an uplifting Christmas movie directed by Melissa Joan Hart. In the film, Moreno plays Belle, a mysterious individual who runs a bootcamp for prospective Santa Claus actors. When a young woman shows up at the bootcamp looking for the perfect St. Nick for a corporate event, Belle decides to teach her a lesson. As usual, Moreno brings her sparkling wit and unmatched stage presence to the screen, making "Santa Bootcamp" a true delight.

In an exclusive interview with The List, Rita Moreno reveals how Steven Spielberg convinced her to return for his "West Side Story" remake.

When Steven Spielberg calls

Having appeared in everything from "Singin' in the Rain" to "Jane the Virgin," Rita Moreno is very much in demand. But when it came to Steven Spielberg's remake of "West Side Story," she wasn't expecting a phone call from the director. 


"It was an astonishing experience, truly, in every sense of the word," Moreno tells The List. "Initially, my agent said, '[Steven] Spielberg wants to talk to you,' and I knew that he was going to make a film of ['West Side Story']." She continues, "He said, 'Would you be interested in being a part of it?' I couldn't believe, this because he's been one of my favorite directors for years."

However, it wasn't an instant "yes" from Moreno when it came to the "West Side Story" remake. "I said to him, 'I'm so flattered that you asked, but I have to tell you ...' I was trying to find my most gentle way of saying this. I said, 'but I don't do cameos,'" the Oscar-winner reveals. "I thought, 'What a bad idea for my favorite director, a cameo in "West Side Story."' He said, 'No, oh my God, no, you would have a real part. Tony Kushner wrote this already, just for you.'" 


Upon learning that she could make her mark on Spielberg's remake, Moreno says she was "was thrilled to pieces." As for receiving the title of executive director on the film, Moreno says, "I couldn't believe my good luck. It was so amazing."

Watch "Santa Bootcamp" on Lifetime.