James Franco was Sam Raimi’s third choice to play the Wizard in Disney’s “Oz the Great and Powerful,” according to a report on Feb. 28 at Lainey Gossip and the Hollywood Reporter. Before approaching Franco the director first asked Robert Downey Jr. to accept the role. It is not clear why, but for whatever reason Downey declined. Sam Raimi then apparently lobbied Johnny Depp to take the part, but was again rebuffed.
Robert Downey Jr. has been pretty busy the last few years as the anchor of Disney’s “Avengers” franchise. He has played the super hero Iron Man and his alter ego Tony Stark in three films so far, and “Iron Man 3” is set to come out this summer. Downey Jr. is also expected to star in “Avengers 2” when it hits theaters in 2015.
Johnny Depp has been everywhere lately, and it is no surprise he found himself too busy to take on the role of the Wizard. When he has not been busy churning out “Pirates of the Caribbean” sequels the actor has rarely taken time off from work. Last year he teamed up with director Tim Burton on the critically panned “Dark Shadows” remake and this summer Depp will star as Tonto in Disney’s “the Lone Ranger.”
James Franco’s career has seen its’ ups and downs since he originally signed a $7 million dollar deal to star in “Oz the Great and Powerful.” Raimi was interested in the actor after seeing him in the hiker drama “127 hours.” James' career hit a bump shortly after signing this deal when many thought he bombed as co-host of the Academy Awards. Franco then made a comeback in the surprise hit “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.”
Disney’s “Oz the Great and Powerful” hits theaters on Mar. 8.