Robert Downey Jr. has stepped down from the lead role in Sam Raimi’s Oz, The Great And Powerful, a prequel to the classic The Wizard of Oz that would tell the story of how a carnival magician came to Oz and tricked all the magical creatures into thinking he was a real wizard. Witches are also apparently involved, which sounds totally wicked. No word yet on why Downey left the project, but it’s the second project he’s felt the need to reject in the last few months, having dropped out the Sandra Bullock feature Gravity last November. Hollywood Reporter broke the story.
Oz, The Great and Powerful is clearly an important project to Disney, however, as they have already started talking to Johnny Depp about taking over the lead role. Pairing Depp with Raimi feels like a natural fit, but pairing Depp with a revisionist take on classic literature feels a little ‘old hat’ now. Frankly, it seems unlikely that Depp will even have the time for such a major production what with Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows and Gore Verbinski’s The Lone Ranger both competing for his time and affection in 2011. CRAVE Online will keep you updated.