‘West Side Story’ star David Alvarez brings new passion to Bernardo

From Broadway to the Army to pursue a degree in philosophy, David Alvarez couldn’t give up the role of a lifetime.

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Adam Driver may be the most notable former Marine to win an Oscar nomination, but David Alvarez May be the first Tony winner become the infantryman to win. In Steven Spielberg’s reveal remake of “West story, ”A work that both sets itself apart and celebrates the achievements of its predecessor, the actor and dancer brings new life to the character of Bernardo. Trained as a ballet dancer before becoming one of the youngest people to win a Best Actor Tony Award for his performance in the Broadway musical “Billy Elliot the Musical,” Alvarez dropped out of the show business when he received an offer to audition for Bernardo.

After seeing the 2009 Broadway revival, directed by Arthur Laurents and featuring a Spanish translation by Lin-Manuel Miranda, he dreamed of doing the show. “I love the sound, the music, the characters and the Shakespeare nature of it. And I just remember getting out there and thinking maybe one day I want to be on ‘West Side Story,’ Alvarez said in a recent phone interview. He was backpacking in Mexico when he got a call from Cindy Tolan, the casting director, who remembers meeting him in “Billy Elliot.”

“I don’t really take on any projects. I gave up this kind of business. I focused on my philosophy degree and personal growth. But when I found out that Steven Spielberg was doing ‘Western Tales’… I was definitely inspired,” he said. “So that’s what brought me back to the business, plus working with Steven Spielberg and Tony Kushner, Rita Moreno. All these myths, how can you deny that? “

Powered by Kushner’s superbly updated script, the racial commentary of “Western Tales” comes to the forefront where it belongs, highlighting the boldness of the 1961 original while delivering its urgent social message in the 21st century. Where Tony and Maria’s ill-fated love story used to be a gentle plea for tolerance, the new “Western Story” Kushner’s is a furious denunciation of the racism and blatant bigotry that has erupted since the 2016 election of Donald Trump. Kushner added a part to Moreno by making the character Doc his widow, Valentina, thus adding another Puerto Rican character. Careful not to change the original too much to be unrecognizable, Kushner also enhanced existing Puerto Rican characters, starting with more screen time for 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' STORY. Niko Tavernise's photo. © 2021 20th Century Studios. Copyright Registered.

“Western Tales”

Niko Tavernise

“It was a very passionate relationship. [Ariana DeBose and I] agree that both Anita and Bernardo are passionate people, therefore love will manifest passionately. They are very strong people,” said Alvarez.

The 2021 film spends more time with Maria, Anita and Bernardo at home, showing their home life, the couple’s closeness, and familiar domestic quarrels. They emerge as a tight trio, bringing all three relationships to the fore in a way that emphasizes dramatic conflict and tragic endings in the end.

“You have more character depth. You understand why these characters are doing what they are doing. And you understand Bernardo’s relationship with Maria and Anita better. You see that the family is active. It’s an opportunity to humanize these characters even more,” he said. “Every person has a different point of view, and you understand all points of view from their point of view. There are no bad people, no good people, everyone is just trying to understand how they fit into this world. And how can they try and understand each other in the face of fear.”

In addition to being a phenomenal dancer, Alvarez also proves his acting skills in a powerful monologue during the uproar, where he accuses Tony of using Maria to make himself feel like a stranger. better men. It’s an excellent work that adds depth to Bernardo, revealing more nuanced dynamics than the “overprotective brother”.

“I don’t think he deserves my sister. My problem with him was that, in my head, he was taking advantage of my sister. And that’s why I can’t understand the love they’re having,” Alvarez said. “One of my favorite lines in the movie is when Chino says, ‘Bernardo is an idiot,’ because I 100% agree with that. Bernardo is a complete idiot. He let that anger control him to death, to the end of what he had built with Anita, to the very end of watching his sister grow up. So it all comes together at the end where he realizes, ‘Oh, I’ve lost it all. And that’s my fault. I’ve got myself here. ‘”

Whether Oscar voters choose to recognize Alvarez or not, Hollywood certainly will. The actor keeps quiet about any pending projects, preferring to complete his philology program.

“I want to continue acting, but I have to be passionate about it. I had to be inspired by it, or to be honest, I just wanted to do something different,” he said. “So I will take it one step at a time. If that’s the case, the right roles will come to me, and I’d love to play other things. But if not, I wouldn’t mind finishing my studies to become a philosophy professor or something.”

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https://www.indiewire.com/2022/01/west-side-story-david-alvarez-bernardo-interview-1234689325/ ‘West Side Story’ star David Alvarez brings new passion to Bernardo


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