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Robert Downey Jr. as the Wizard of Oz?

April 20, 2010 |  8:11 pm

Several weeks ago we wrote that Joe Roth was meeting with newly anointed Disney production president Sean Bailey on a "Wizard of Oz" prequel about the wizard before he came to Oz.

Now we're hearing that those meetings went well, so well that the project is on a fast track of sorts. According to word in the development community, Robert Downey Jr. is talking to producers about starring as the wizard (hard not to lick your lips at that one). 

Down Meanwhile, two directors are said to be considered top candidates to get behind the camera: "American Beauty" director Sam Mendes (who may have some  time on his hands now that "Bond 23" is in trouble) and "Hairspray" and "Bedtime Stories" director Adam Shankman, who most recently pulled the strings from behind the curtain at the Oscars.

(Downey's and Mendes' potential involvement, incidentally, were also mentioned earlier today in a tweet from Production Weekly.)

As we'd initially written, "The Whole Nine Yards" writer Mitchell Kapner wrote the script for the project, based on parts of a number of L. Frank Baum books. (It was called "Brick" back when it was first presented to Disney, but is now being talked about around town as "The Great Powerful.") The wizard, who in the Baum books was a charlatan in Kansas before arriving in Oz, is 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, which in turn makes it seem like it would be perfect for Downey (and few others).

 The two directors being considered, meanwhile, would seem to mark two directions for the picture, given the more subdued and even bleaker tones that have infused Mendes' work and the lighter, more whimsical one that has marked Shankman's.

Disney is said to like the premise enough (and with Roth's "Alice in Wonderland" doing so fantastically well, why not?) that if it all comes together, they could shoot the movie as early as next spring, when Downey has a spot in his production schedule. From down-and-out to playing Tony Stark and, possibly, the Wizard of Oz -- it's like he's on his own yellow brick road.

--Steven Zeitchik

Follow me on Twitter.

Photo: Robert Downey, Jr. at the 2010 Oscars. Credit: Peter Kramer/AP


 
Comments () | Archives (16)

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I would definitely go see that movie!

I don't believe it...There are many roles Robert Downey Jr could play.
Great to see he now has many film offers..from a Rabbit to a Wizard who are
you kidding?

He so talented he could play all the parts, but I don't think I'd like to see him play Dorothy......

Oh, great. ANOTHER character who is perfectly fine being remade as a "dark and complex" character. What's next? The formative years of Santa Claus as a misunderstood, angry youth who created Christmas as a way to seek revenge on those who forgot him in the cold, dark December nights of Northern Europe?

Perhaps a look at what happens AFTER Kathy Selden and Don Lockwood leave the Chinese Theater and start abusing each other?

What's next? The formative years of Santa Claus as a misunderstood, angry youth who created Christmas as a way to seek revenge on those who forgot him in the cold, dark December nights of Northern Europe?

----------------------

Actually, yes, I'd pay to see that.

I would LOVE to see Robert Downey, Jr. play a cross dressing cabaret
entertainer..his got the gate, the voice, and would be a perfect diva.
How devine!

i remember the whole nine yards, very funny movie. i hope this is as good.

Hey, Trent - if I were you, I'd draft a treatment of that "Santa Claus" pitch and get copyright protection. Sounds like a perfect vehicle for Philip Seymour Hoffman.

I am thrilled they are doing another Wizard of Oz being a lifelong collector of L. Frank Baum books for the children of today will truly love this American icon and classic again. If they can remake another freddy movie, Nightmare On Elm Street, then why not another Wizard since technology and even 3-d advances would make it a wonderful family movie. I also heard there are other Wizard movies in the planning so I am ready once again to walk down the yellow brick road.

Would pay good money to watch him read the LA Times out loud. Love the tie! Naturally stylin'est man in H'wood.

I'm really, really tired of these "Remakes"/"Reimaginings" that are supposed to be edgy, but are really just the result of basically uncreative people co-opting characters from others' more imaginative works. Anyone think "The Wiz" was better than the "Wizard of Oz"? Was "Tin Man" worth watching? The whole "Wicked" series was garbage. Frank L. Baum's original works were excellent children's books. Too bad Hollywood has to screw with the classics...

With many announcements about the Wizard of Oz movies in the news, you might want to consider starting your own collection of Wizard of Oz
books series. You can also read my newsletter article New Wizard of Oz movie and its
Impact on the Oz Books.

to art. Maybe they should do a prequel to SCROOGE and you should play it. Let things happen. Why bother if other people enjoy. You boring Scroogy person

jb

So I heard that this movie has already been made. called Witches of Oz I guess in 3D IMDB link is http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1592287/

Christopher Lloyd as The Wizard...IDK this looks pretty wicked! don't get me wrong Downey IS emmensly talented but ....The cast looks pretty solid

What is "Roth's Alice In Wonderland"?????

I know Jerry Hardin would be perfect for the role of the wizard in a new Wizard Of Oz movie. He certainly could talk like the wizard. If you don't remember him, he played as Mark Twain in Star Trek Shows. And Taylor Swift could be made up to look just like Judy Garland in the Wizard of Oz movie.


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