Image Credit: Ethan Miller/Getty ImagesIt could happen, according to the LA Times, which reported last night that Disney has put a Wizard of Oz prequel on “a fast track of sorts” with Robert Downey Jr. in talks to star as the wizard, and Sam Mendes (who just got his plate cleared now that Bond 23 is on hold indefinitely) and Adam Shankman (Hairspray) on the short list to direct. (Production Weekly also reported Mendes and Downey on its Twitter feed, and Perez Hilton reported on Friday that Downey and Johnny Depp are in the running for the starring role.) The project, scripted by Whole Nine Yards writer Mitchell Kapner based on L. Frank Baum’s Oz books, tells the pre-Emerald City story of the Great and Powerful Oz, back when he was a charlatan in Kansas working in a traveling circus. The Times describes the wizard as “a more dark and complex character in the Roth/Kapner version than the desperate and doddering wizard of the MGM musical (played by Frank Morgan) would suggest.”
Like the musical Wicked did for the Witch of the West, a movie prequel telling the Wizard’s backstory actually sounds pretty cool. How did a man from Kansas become a giant floating head in a back room of a magical city run by little people? He claimed to be a “a very good man…just a very bad wizard,” but from what we saw of him, we also know he was kind of a huckster, smoke and mirrors personified. So who is the man behind the man behind the curtain? The more I think of it, the more I want to see Downey fill in the many blanks surrounding this mysterious, iconic character (who, by the way, scared the hell out of me as a kid).
Who else thinks this could be good? And of the two directors reportedly in the running, which do you prefer: Mendes or Shankman?