Sam Raimi and execs at Disney are in disagreement as to who shall play the role of the one of the elder witches in their upcoming Oz, The Great And Powerful.
Reportedly, Raimi has been pushing for offering Hilary Swank the role. She has two Academy Awards to her name and has worked with Raimi before on The Gift. The studio, on the other hand, would like to give the job to two-time Oscar nominee Michelle Williams.
Vulture, who broke the story, is saying that the two haven’t reached an impasse yet, but notes that Raimi can be fairly tenacious in situations like this. They point to when the director fought against Sony’s desire to hire American Beauty star Wes Bentley for Peter Parker when he was prepping the first Spider-Man film ten years ago. Raimi got his way, Tobey Maguire got the part and the film went on to make over $403 million in US ticket sales and launch a trilogy that cleared over a billion dollars in just domestic box office receipts.
Casting this film has proved quite a challenge. Originally, Robert Downey Jr was attached to the project to play the role of a Kansas con man who gets flown by balloon to the magical land of Oz and sets himself up as a great wizard. Downey dropped out in January and Johnny Depp briefly was connected with the film before the role finally went to James Franco. More recently, John C. Reilly was in negotiations for a role in the film but wound up backing out in favor of a role in Lionsgate’s The Hunger Games adaption.
Personally, I think either actress here would be a good choice. I liked the work Swank did before with Raimi in The Gift and I’m sure that there is probably a comfortable factor there for him. I’ve been a fan of Williams’s work for years now, and while she has been doing some heavy duty drama of late, such as Blue Valentine, she can certainly handle lighter roles as well. If you don’t believe me, check her out in the indie comedy The Baxter, from actor/writer/director Michael Showalter.