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‘West Side Story’ Star David Alvarez Brings New Passion to Bernardo

From Broadway to the Military to pursuing a philosophy diploma, David Alvarez could not move up the function of a lifetime.


Adam Driver could be the most notable former Marine to earn an Oscar nomination, however David Alvarez may very well be the primary Tony winner turned infantryman to nab one. In Steven Spielberg’s revelatory remake of “West Facet Story,” a  manufacturing that each makes a case for itself whereas honoring the achievements of its predecessor, the actor and dancer brings renewed life to the character of Bernardo. Educated as a ballet dancer earlier than turning into one of many youngest folks to win a Finest Actor Tony for his efficiency in “Billy Elliot the Musical” on Broadway, Alvarez had all however left present enterprise when he obtained the decision to audition for Bernardo.

After seeing the 2009 Broadway revival, which was directed by Arthur Laurents and featured translated Spanish lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, he had dreamed of doing the present. “I used to be so in love with the sound, the music, the characters, and the Shakespearean essence to it. And I simply bear in mind popping out of there and pondering that possibly someday I’d wish to be in ‘West Facet Story,’” Alvarez stated throughout a latest cellphone interview. He was backpacking in Mexico when he obtained a name from Cindy Tolan, the casting director who remembered seeing him in “Billy Elliot.”

“I wasn’t actually taking any initiatives. I had give up the enterprise sort of. I used to be targeted on my philosophy diploma and my very own private progress. However when I discovered that Steven Spielberg was making ‘West Facet Story’…I used to be positively impressed,” he stated. “So it sort of took that to deliver me again to the enterprise, plus working with Steven Spielberg and Tony Kushner, Rita Moreno. All these legends, how may you flip that down?”

Aided by Kushner’s brilliantly up to date script, the racial commentary of “West Facet Story” involves the forefront the place it belongs, highlighting the daring of the 1961 unique whereas ushering its pressing social message into the twenty first century. The place Tony and Maria’s ill-fated love story was as soon as a delicate plea for tolerance, Kushner’s new “West Facet Story” is an incendiary denouncement of the brazen racism and bigotry that was unleashed because the 2016 election of Donald Trump. Kushner added a component for Moreno by turning the character of Doc into his widow, Valentina, thus including one other Puerto Rican character. Cautious to not change the unique a lot as to be unrecognizable, Kushner additionally beefed up the prevailing Puerto Rican characters, beginning with extra display screen time for the beloved supporting couple — Bernardo and Anita.

Paloma Garcia-Lee as Graziella, Mike Faist as Riff, David Alvarez as Bernardo, and Ariana DeBose as Anita in 20th Century Studios' WEST SIDE STORY. Photo by Niko Tavernise. © 2021 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

“West Facet Story”

Niko Tavernise

“It’s a really passionate relationship. [Ariana DeBose and I] agreed that each Anita and Bernardo are passionate folks, subsequently that love goes to manifest passionately. They’re very sturdy folks,” stated Alvarez.

The 2021 movie spends extra time with Maria, Anita, and Bernardo at house, displaying their home life, the couple’s intimacy, and the acquainted squabbles of household. They emerge as a tight-knit trio, bringing all three relationships to the forefront in a method that underscores the dramatic battle and eventual tragic ending.

“You get extra character depth. You perceive why these characters are doing what they’re doing. And also you perceive the connection between Bernardo and Maria and Anita extra. You see that household dynamic. It was an opportunity to humanize these characters much more,” he stated. “Everybody has a distinct perspective, and also you perceive all views from their factors of view. There’s no unhealthy particular person, there’s no good particular person, everyone seems to be simply attempting to grasp how they match into this world. And the way they’ll attempt to perceive one another within the face of concern.”

Along with being an exceptional dancer, Alvarez proves his performing prowess in a forceful monologue through the rumble, the place he accuses Tony of utilizing Maria to make himself really feel like a greater man. It’s an excellent piece of writing that provides depth to Bernardo, revealing extra nuanced motivations than “overprotective older brother.”

“I don’t suppose he deserves my sister. My drawback with him is, in my head, he’s utilizing my sister. And that’s why I can’t perceive the love that they’ve,” stated Alvarez. “One in every of my favourite strains within the film is when Chino says, ‘Bernardo was a idiot,’ as a result of I 100-percent agree with that. Bernardo was a complete idiot. He let that anger management him to his loss of life, to the tip of what he has constructed with Anita, to the tip of watching his sister develop up. So that each one comes collectively on the finish the place he realizes, ‘Oh, I’ve misplaced all of it. And it was my fault. I obtained myself proper right here.’”

Whether or not Oscar voters select to acknowledge Alvarez or not, there’s little doubt that Hollywood will. The actor stayed quiet about any pending initiatives, preferring to muse on ending his philosophy diploma.

“I’d like to proceed performing, however I’ve to be obsessed with it. I’ve to be impressed with it or I’d somewhat simply do one thing else, to be sincere,” he stated. “So I’m simply going to take it one step at a time. If it’s meant to be, the correct roles will come my method, and I might like to painting different issues. But when not, I wouldn’t thoughts ending my diploma to grow to be a philosophy professor or one thing.”

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