Sam Raimi Fighting with Disney to Cast Hilary Swank in OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL

     April 22, 2011

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While he’s working on filling out the rest of his cast for Oz, the Great and Powerful, director Sam Raimi is having a little trouble getting Disney on the same page. James Franco is currently set to star as the Wizard in this prequel to 1939’s The Wizard of Oz, with Mila Kunis attached to play Theodora (the Wicked Witch of the West). Raimi wants Hilary Swank to join the cast as one of the elder witches in the film, but apparently Disney is none too keen on that casting choice. Vulture reports that the Mouse House is pushing Raimi to cast Michelle Williams in the role instead, but Raimi doesn’t seem eager to budge.

The report points out that the director ran into a similar problem on the first Spider-Man flick, when Sony wanted him to cast American Beauty star Wes Bentley as Peter Parker. Obviously Raimi won out on that film, but can he convince Disney otherwise this time? Hit the jump for more.

sam-raimi-imageOz, the Great and Powerful centers on Franco’s character dropping into Oz and getting caught up in a battle for the kingdom. The Wizard and Glenda the Good Witch go up against evil witches Theodora (Kunis) and Evanora. One would guess that the role Raimi has his eye on Swank for is Evanora, since he and Disney were trying to nab Blake Lively to star as Glenda (she ultimately chose to star in Oliver Stone’s Savages over this project).

I think Swank and Williams are both fine actresses, and it’s hard to opine over which is better for the role without really knowing the character and how Raimi and Co. intend to portray her. I can’t imagine either one being a bad choice. John C. Reilly was previously in talks to join the film as the Wizard’s sidekick, but he will instead be taking on a crucial role in Gary Ross’ The Hunger Games adaptation. Only time will tell if Raimi gets his pick. If you’ll recall, the director’s creative differences with Sony over Spider-Man 4 led to him walking away from the project entirely, thus ending the Tobey Maguire-Raimi Spider-Man era of films and making way for the new Marc Webb-helmed reboot starring Andrew Garfield. To catch up on all of our coverage for Oz, the Great and Powerful click here.

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