Rita Moreno won an Academy Award for her role in the 1961 adaptation of West Side Story, and now Steven Spielberg is paying tribute to her (and her general greatness) with a special character in his upcoming remake that was specifically written for her. As we’ve previously reported, Moreno will be playing Valentina, an expanded version of the Doc character who runs the neighborhood corner store. This won’t just be a glorified cameo, though: At her stage show An Evening With Rita Moreno in California this weekend (via Variety), Moreno told the audience that she has a “real part” in the film and not just a fan-service shoutout (like when Lou Ferrigno shows up in a Hulk movie or whatever).
Moreno didn’t offer too many more details about her character in the movie, but she seems very enthusiastic about the project in general. She said she was concerned about Hollywood doing a remake at first, but now that filming has wrapped she’s excited for people to see it, adding, “Boy, are you in for something.” She also shared a story about a woman stopping her at a deli in New York and asking her about the remake, with the woman automatically assuming that Moreno was going to star as Anita again. We know filming as already been finished, but is it too late for Spielberg to totally change course and do that instead?