Three months after the “West Side Story” press tour wrapped, Rachel Zegler is speaking out about the media’s line of questioning aimed at her and her female costars over Ansel Elgort’s assault allegations. In an interview with “Elle,” Zegler was asked about a previous roundtable discussion she participated in with “West Side Story” stars Ariana DeBose and Rita Moreno. During the conversation, the three women were questioned about the allegations aimed at Elgort. Zegler voiced her concern over the queries to “Elle” stating, “It was a real gut punch, honestly.”
“[There is] inherent discomfort that comes with that realization that there are tons of people who think that you have to answer for the actions of an adult male who can speak for himself.”
“I reverted back to this brain space I was in [back in] June of 2020, when the accusation surfaced . . . Those days were some of the worst mental health days I’ve ever had,” she added. “I was sitting there having just turned 19, on the precipice of what was promised to be the biggest moment in my life, and was being held accountable [by the public] for accusations that not only had nothing to do with me, but were made about a situation that was said to have occurred [five] years prior to when I had met and worked with this person.”
Zegler also said she didn’t understand why questions about the accusations were aimed at her “even though the person in question was present” and that she was “devastated” over how people critiqued her response to the situation. “[There is] inherent discomfort that comes with that realization that there are tons of people who think that you have to answer for the actions of an adult male who can speak for himself,” she added in her “Elle” interview.
“It is so wildly disappointing at every turn, no matter how you slice it. No matter how many times I’ve tried to justify people’s concern when it comes to me in my brain, but then realizing that it comes from a place of me having to answer for that, and not them actually caring about whether or not I was okay, was really hurtful . . . I really don’t have anything to do with this conversation, and I’m looking forward to moving past it,” she concluded.
Zegler formally addressed the allegations surrounding Elgort, who plays Tony in “West Side Story,” in January near the end of her film’s press tour. Elgort was accused of sexual assault nearly a year after filming wrapped on the remake movie, and Zegler, who plays Maria, hadn’t directly spoken on the matter until “The Hollywood Reporter” released its January cover story. “We made a movie two and a half years ago, and a lot has gone on in the world since then,” the actor told the outlet.
In June 2020, a woman came forward on Twitter accusing Elgort of sexually assaulting her in 2014, when she was 17 and he was 20. “I just want to heal and I want to tell other girls who have been through the same sh*t as me, you’re not alone,” she said at the time. Elgort denied the allegations in a now-deleted statement, categorizing his relationship with the woman as “brief, legal, and entirely consensual.” (The age of consent in New York, where the incident took place, is 17.)
Elgort wasn’t edited out of “West Side Story,” but he was noticeably sidelined in the ensuing press tour. And although the cast and crew didn’t comment on the controversy, Zegler seemed to allude to it in a 2020 tweet shared the same day the allegations surfaced. “I am feeling a little lost tonight and i am feeling a little disappointed. i know some of you are, too,” she said, “that’s the world right now— but it’s necessary.”
In “The Hollywood Reporter”‘s cover story, Zegler later said, “A lot has changed very publicly, and privately as well. There’s been a lot of awakening. You just hope that the people involved are OK, that they are asked in a respectful manner and that they are given the opportunity to answer for themselves.”
DeBose and Moreno also shared their perspectives in the cover story. DeBose said, “Nobody really knows what’s going on in anyone’s head. Only the people who were involved in that situation know what actually went down.” Moreno added, “I think it would have been absolutely horrendous and wrong for anyone to take sides in that matter. It’s not for me to make those judgments.”