In an interview with ELLE published last Tuesday, young actress Rachel Zegler opened up about how the West Side Story promotional press tour wore her out, thanks to a quirky fact. The artist had her revelation performance as María in the remake of the musical directed by Steven Spielberg. Zegler leads the film’s lead romance alongside Ansel Elgort (Baby Driver), who has been caught up in a scandal as an allegation of sexual harassment surfaced in the middle of promoting the film.
Elgort, who played the Tony Zegler’s Maria falls in love with in the musical, was accused in June 2020 of having sexually assaulted a woman in 2014, when she was allegedly 17 years old and he was 20. The actor denied the accusations and he maintained that he “would never seek to assault anyone” and stated that, at the time, he had a “brief, legal and fully consensual relationship” with his accuser.
“Why were Zegler and her female co-stars Rita Moreno and Ariana DeBose on the receiving end of such questions ‘even though the person in question was present?'” the interviewer observed. Zegler would also like an answer to that question. , noting that it was a “real punch in the gut” to have to answer for the actions of “a grown man who can speak for himself.”
Ansel Elgort y Rachel Zegler in West Side Story (2021), available on Disney Plus.
“I came back to this mental space I was in [en] June 2020, when the allegation surfaced,” Zegler said. “We were in the midst of the first wave of Covid-19 lockdowns, and I couldn’t ignore the news. Those were some of the worst mental health days I’ve ever had. I was sitting there in my house, I had just turned 19, and I felt on the precipice of what was promised to be the most important moment of my life. And above all, I had to account to the public for accusations that not only had nothing to do with me, but that would have happened five years before I knew and worked with this person.”
The young actress who will soon star in the sequel to Shazam continued to refer to the experiences of Rita Moreno and Ariana DeBose, the film’s other female leads, who were being asked for answers for an event in which they were not involved. “They never considered the experiences of myself and the other incredible women in my cast as women in an industry that constantly brings us into close encounters with men in power, and they also ignored the experience of a very iconic woman in Hollywood. [Moreno]who has spoken about his own experience with sexual assault before.”
“In the grand scheme of things about this woman who has come forward with the accusations, I can’t imagine what she had to go through,” Zegler said of Elgort’s alleged victim. “If I’m sitting here thinking those days were traumatic for me, I don’t pretend to know what she felt. I could never know. I really have nothing to do with this conversation and I’m looking forward to putting it in the past.”
In January, Zegler briefly addressed the allegations for the first time in a Hollywood Reporter cover story alongside her female co-stars: “We made a movie two and a half years ago, and a lot has happened in the world since then,” she said. “A lot has changed in public and in private too. There’s been an awakening. You just hope that the people involved are okay, that they’re questioned in a respectful way and that they’re given a chance to answer for themselves.”
Ansel Elgort seems to have maintained his innocence within the industry, as he continues to work and recently premiered the series Tokyo Vice on HBO Max, in which he stars alongside Ken Watanabe and is directed by Michael Mann.
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