natalie moreno

One of the few things that I disdained while filming the movie was the makeup used to paint the Puerto Ricans the same color. We Sharks were all the same homogeneous brown! Our gang, including me, was a uniform tobacco brown color, and that was just plain wrong and inaccurate. Puerto Ricans, with their varied genetic ancestry–Spanish, Taino Indian, Black, Dutch–are born with a broad palette of skin colors, from outright white to true black.

And, of course, it was uncomfortable for Hispanics to see Natalie Wood play Maria, especially because we’d heard that Natalie hadn’t wanted the part, but had been so prevailed upon to take it that she couldn’t refuse. Natalie seemed uncomfortable in her role as Maria when she was around use, a rowdy, raucous group of dancers. This may explain her nonengaging demeanor with us “Gypsies” throughout the shoot. It might have been helpful had we been able to bond with Natalie, but she kept her distance. 

– Rita Moreno: A Memoir