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SYFY WIRE Snow White

Alert the dwarfs! Disney taps West Side Story star Rachel Zegler as live-action Snow White

By Matthew Jackson
Rachel Zegler West Side Story

What's good enough for Steven Spielberg is good enough for Disney. Deadline reports the House of Mouse has tapped Rachel Zegler, who landed her breakthrough role when Spielberg cast her in his upcoming remake of West Side Story, to be its live-action Snow White. The new film, based on Disney's legendary first animated feature, will begin production next year under director Marc Webb (The Amazing Spider-Man).

According to Deadline's sources, Disney's met with stars for months looking for the right actress to fill the title role in the project, and chose Zegler after seeing both a good audition and early footage from West Side Story, which arrives this December from 20th Century Studios (now owned by Disney). Her Snow White casting victory comes after Spielberg led a highly publicized talent searched of more than 30,000 young actresses to find the right Maria for his West Side Story, and eventually landed on Zegler.

“Rachel’s extraordinary vocal abilities are just the beginning of her gifts. Her strength, intelligence and optimism will become an integral part of rediscovering the joy in this classic Disney fairytale,” Webb said.

Though Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was Disney's first animated feature film all the way back in 1937, the studio has taken its time with a live-action adaptation, waiting for the right moment while launching live-action versions of everything from Cinderella to the Cruella prequel. One of the reasons for the delay, according to Deadline's reporting, was taking time to nail the musical side of the story. Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, the Tony and Oscar-winning writers behind Dear Evan Hansen and La La Land, have been at work on new original songs as part of an expansion of the original animated film's story, and Disney is finally happy enough with what they're producing to move forward.

No other casting for the live-action Snow White has been announced yet, so we'll have to wait a little while to see who plays the Evil Queen, the Prince, and of course the Seven Dwarfs. For now, Zegler gets to celebrate yet another major role in a short but rapidly growing resume that also includes a role in Warner Bros.' upcoming Shazam! Fury of the Gods.