Yesterday it was announced that director Stephen Daldry (Billy Elliot, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close) had landed the task of bringing Wicked to life on the silver screen.
Naturally, as with all things on the internet, there was an outburst of shock, happiness (in some cases, indignation) and curiosity. What will the musical Wizard of Oz prequel look like on the silver screen? We can only imagine what the masterful Daldry will bring to the table, but who can put faces to the actors and actresses that will take the roles immortalized by Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth? We have a few ideas…
Warning: There are a few minor spoilers for Wicked in this post
Before you immediately jump down into the comments section to bash us for not including Idina Menzel on this list (that’s right, she’s not here – wait, don’t click away! COME BACK HERE AND HEAR US OUT), there are several things that we must consider when casting a feature film as opposed to a Broadway musical.
None of us here at Hypable want to throw around the word “old” too carelessly (words hurt), but the part of a witch in her first year at magic school is a role that has an age limit. It’s not for lack of talent – it’s purely because age is something that can easily be manipulated on stage and not so easily manipulated on film.
Regardless of how hard Menzel would kick the role out of the park, all that a camera would do is amplify every age mark on the 41-year-old actress and distract the audience from what the character should be: a strange, confident yet unsure young woman who happens to be green.
With that said, let’s move on to our first suggestion, starting with the most obvious.
Our Pick: Lea Michele
If we go by the old Hollywood adage of “looking the part,” Michele is already several Hollywood points above her fellow actresses. Add that to an overwhelming amount of reasons to cast her (she can sing, she can dance, she already has experience singing half of the songs from Wicked for Glee) and she might already have the role in the bag.
Also, being the lead in a TV show that attracted the biggest audience in America for a few years doesn’t hurt either. Producers know the kind of draw that Michele would bring, and frankly, we’re interested to see if she has the pipes to belt out those radical pre-intermission tones.
There’s no denying that she’s a Broadway baby, and at this point her experience can only mean good things for her. Also, she looks like Idina Menzel’s daughter. Remember this? Yeah, that totally happened.
Eden Espinosa – She understudied for Idina Menzel in the original Broadway production and has been touring ever since. She has probably played the role more than anyone else on the planet, and those that have seen her still shout her praises. She’s only as big of a name as Lea Michele in certain (awesome) circles, so producers sadly probably couldn’t count on her to attract a crowd
Shoshana Bean – She’s the same age as Eden Espinosa, has the same fierce talent, and will probably be vying for the role just as hard as any of the other post-Menzel Elphabas out there. Her sharp and understated acting technique would translate well to film and she has already proven that she is a voice to be reckoned with. We at least need an Elphaba that has proven she can walk the walk and belt the belt.
Idina Menzel – Fine, we’ll add Idina Menzel just because we want (read: need) to see her in the role again. It doesn’t look too probable, but hey, a website can dream.
*Bonus Hollywood actor with unproven vocal talent: Olivia Wilde.
This gorgeous actress is no stranger to flying stunts (Cowboys and Aliens anyone?), but has anyone actually heard her sing? We can already see her waving her arms and chanting eleka nahmen nahmen ah tum ah tum eleka nahmen to try and save Fiyero’s life with the same intensity that we’ve seen on House, but unless Wilde has hitherto unknown vocal talents, the songs would have to undergo massive changes in order to make them “actor friendly.”
Unfortunately, we may have to file our Galinda predictions in the “Kristin Chenoweth probably shouldn’t play this role because cameras are cruel and soul-less inventions” file.
For most movies based on Broadway musicals, we would be touting the original Broadway cast as the only true way to go, but in this particular case (the case in which producers at Universal and Stephen Daldry get together to draw the line between artistic merit and names that draw a crowd) our predictions might fare better if we consider some fresh talent.
Our Pick: Megan Hilty
We know, we know, we know, Megan Hilty is going to be incredibly busy with her newfound Smash success, but we happen to believe that she’ll use her relatively new star-power to try and secure a role that she’s already very familiar with. Oh yeah, we forgot to mention, Hilty’s already played Galinda on Broadway.
Not only that, but she has previous Broadway experience as the original lead of 9 to 5, a musical adaptation of the 1980 Dolly Parton film. She’s not necessarily the Broadway baby that Lea Michelle and Idina Menzel were, but she definitely possesses the talent to make a very charming Galinda.
Oh, and if you’re not sure if she can pull off the slightly bitchy undertone that plagues Galinda before she changes her name (Glinda’s much nicer), then you should check out an episode of Louie titled “Heckler.”
Let’s just hope she’s trained as an operatic soprano.
Kristen Bell: Reefer Madness has proven Kristen’s vocal talents to us, but does she have quite what it takes to take on the strenuous role of Glinda the Good? We can see her owning “Popular,” but it’s not the only song Galinda has in the musical. If anything, her comedic timing is spot on enough to make us love her Galinda.
Reese Witherspoon: She might have the same problem as Kristin Chenoweth on the whole “not getting any younger” front (ugh, we feel like pigs), but she could have the character work pinned down, wrapped up and presented with a bow on top. She has the Galinda demeanor down to a science, but we can’t help but feel like there is a major theme running through these contenders: can she hit the notes?
Kristin Chenoweth: Okay, stop writing your 400 word revenge-sponse. We’ve got her up here just because she’s perfect in the role, but we’re telling you, we at Hypable (as Wicked fans) can overlook the whole age problem. Newcomers and producers won’t be quite as forgiving. Producers will look at the dismal box-office results of the film adaptation of Rent and conclude that it’s better to market to a wider audience rather than rely on the original Broadway cast.
*Bonus Hollywood actor with past vocal skill: Michelle Williams
We’ve seen her sing in the recent My Week With Marilyn and she does an amazing job, but unless we switch the vocal quality of the character entirely, she might not be up to the warbling operatic tones that Galinda constantly breaks into just to show off.
Also, she’s already cast as Glinda for Oz the Great and Powerful, so there’s some serious Marvel style Ozian crossover potential here.*
The character of Fiyero will be an interesting casting decision since producers are going to want dashing-to-the-extreme to please the predominantly female audience that will be in attendance. Don’t get us wrong – all of us here at Hypable will probably be watching – but with two leading female protagonists they’ll need to stick a handsome face in the middle to draw them apart.
We can’t name the person who originally played Fiyero off the top of our head, so it may be safe to count him out (whoever he is).
Our Pick: Johnathon Groff
The only reason we would doubt ourselves on this choice would be this: If Lea Michele were to be cast as Elphaba it would be the third time that this couple has gotten together for a production across a record-breaking three mediums. All that we’re saying is that it might distract the audience enough to bring them out of Oz and back into Spring Awakening or Glee.
His filmography has been growing ever since his starring role in Spring Awakening (from which he was nominated for a Tony), so by the time Wicked films he’ll have more than enough experience behind the camera to not overdo it.
His voice is perfect for the role, he has experience playing a rebel, and he fills our dashing quota pretty well. Throw in a carefree attitude and enough acting talent to make you shed tears in Act II and you have the perfect choice for the integral character.
Hunter Parrish: He took over the role of Melchior on Broadway and has ample camera experience thanks to Weeds, so depending on exactly how young they’re planning to cast we may end up seeing Parrish take the role that every young attractive male singer in Hollywood will be after.
Elijah Kelly: He kicked ass in Hairspray and possesses the raw vocal talent to truly make Fiyero his own, as well as the ability make girls swoon and faint in their seats. He’s smooth, charming, and everything that a decent Fiyero should be to lure Elphaba out of her shell.
Darren Criss: Speaking of Glee, we can’t help but realize that if Darren Criss showed up in a TV commercial singing “Dancing Through Life,” all of the girls would show up to see the movie. All of them.
*Bonus Hollywood actor with past vocal skill: Ryan Gosling
We all want to see Ryan Gosling do this. He’s one of the most charming, skillful and charismatic actors of our decade and the Wicked film adaptation would benefit from having him, but we’re not sure if anyone has seen him really sing in years.
If Michelle Williams happens to land the role of Galinda, the movie might get a little too real for comfort, but if he still sings and dances like this then maybe we should sign him up to cut a rug as Fiyero.
There are many sympathetic characters in Wicked, but one that stands above most (d’aaaw) is the part-munchkin boy that just wants a date with Galinda.
He ends up dating Elphaba’s wheelchair-bound sister Nessarose out of pity and – well – we won’t ruin it for those of you that don’t know the story yet.
Our Pick: Daniel Radcliffe
We know, how predictable right? Hear us out. Aside from the former boy wizard’s claim that he wants to branch away from magical properties for a while, we can’t help but imagine the 5′ 5″ actor stepping out of a lead role and into a minor one, if not for just one film.
The only potential flaw is that with big faces comes big financial accountability. Radcliffe starred in the most financially successful franchise of all time, so his agents may not appreciate being offered a quasi-bit role after coming off of 10 years of being a leading man.
Dan has already proven that he can sing (not that Boq’s role is particularly strenuous), and he has also proven that he has the comedic timing to be able to pull off being awkward and sweet, yet still have the dramatic bravado to pull off the second half when things get much darker.
Darren Criss: As the only actor to appear on our list of potential actors twice, Darren captures Boq’s essence way better than he would should he be cast as Fiyero. Not only that, but his voice is more suited to the character as is his physical stature.
Elijah Wood: Wood is just one inch taller than Radcliffe, but his facial structure lends itself a little better to the role of the part-munchkin Boq, and his natural intensity will come in handy when he begins to lead the resistance against the witch.
The all-important Wizard of Oz is a huge player in the course of the musical adaptation. He only really has the one song, but it’s a great one, and what with Oz, the Great and Powerful coming out next year, the role will still be fresh in the people’s mind when Wicked is released.
Our Pick: Joel Grey
What can we say? He’s the wizard and he’s not exactly too old for the part. As a musical theater legend and the only one on our list to retain his original Broadway role, we can only hope that he sticks around to step back into The Wizard’s very big shoes.
Sure, he may want to allow another great actor to take on the role, but if we had our way, it would be Joel Grey all the way, if for no other reason than to pay an homage to his fabulous Broadway history as well as tip the hat toward the original Broadway production.
The only thing that might keep him out of the role is if Daldry has plans to make the Wizard a little younger in order to make…erm…something have a more believable age gap. Hell, even then, he’s supposed to be a wizard.
He can magic up an excuse or something.
Robin Williams: Right? RIGHT? Right. Assuming that Daldry wants to go a little younger, just imagine seeing Williams as the multi-faceted Wizard behind the giant talking face. He’s goofy, heartful, and could have a unique take on one of the oldest roles in the history of cinema.
Christopher Walken: If Daldry decides to keep the Wizard at the same age and Grey decides not to re-accept the role, Walken would be a very interesting choice. He could inject his usual wacky brand of humor into the character, but when things get dramatic, there’s no doubt that Walken would be able to bring the heat.
Doctor Dillamond – Our Pick: Bryan Cranston
It’s all-together possible that this author happens to be obsessed with the actor because he has been watching Breaking Bad nonstop since he found it on Netflix.
Cranston not only has the natural “teacher/father figure” feel to him, but he has been able to showcase his astonishing dramatic work over the past few years.
As the scenes with him prove to be some of the most heartbreaking moments in the entire show, it only makes sense to give the role to someone who is able to handle it and yet still have the comedic chops to pull off a few of the more light-hearted moments.
Morgan Freeman: Let’s face it. Nobody wants to see Morgan Freeman be discriminated against only to see him eventually lose his ability to talk. We’re seriously tearing up just thinking about it. Talk about an emotional powerhouse.
Nessarose – Our Pick: Anne Hathaway
Hathaway’s name has been in the ring for Elphaba before talk of a Wicked movie-musical even began. Word on the block is that her voice is less than stellar (I’m not a classically trained singer, so my untrained ear says she sounds fine, but my amazingly talented girlfriend would beg to differ), so sticking her with a role as demanding as Elphaba’s might not be best.
Regardless, she is such a talent and she would suit the role of Nessarose so perfectly that we’ve given her the role without adding an honorable mention section.
Look at us, acting like we have any say in the process. We might be getting a little too into this.
Madame Morrible – Our Pick: Angela Lansbury
Lansbury has taken a hiatus from film for the past few years (if we keep saying “she wasn’t in Mr. Popper’s Penguins” over and over again we hope it’ll come true), but fresh from her recent Tony win may be the perfect opportunity for this astounding actress to jump back into the medium.
Not only does she look the part, but as one of the most iconic Broadway actresses of all time she would add a credibility to the production that really can’t be bought. Just as a glance-over, Lansbury has won five Tony Awards, six Golden Globes, was nominated for an Oscar and is a 19-time Emmy nominee. Suck it, young people.
Meryl Streep: This is a casting speculation list, so Streep belongs here. Whereas Lansbury ties the record for the most Tonys won by a single person, Streep holds the record for the most Best Actor Oscars held by anyone ever.
Actually, scratch this whole article. Producers, we want an all-Streep production of Wicked.