The Wicked movie has found its two lead witches in Ariana Grande and Cynthia Erivo.
Grande will play Glinda, the Good Witch, a role originated by Kristin Chenoweth on Broadway, while Erivo will take on the role of Elphaba, the misunderstood green-skinned Wicked Witch of the West, originally played by Idina Menzel.
The musical is based on Gregory Maguire’s book of the same name, and is a prequel to The Wizard of Oz, following Elphaba and Glinda as rivals turned best friends in college, before they eventually splintered apart. The upcoming movie is directed by Jon M. Chu, who directed this year’s In the Heights. Stephen Schwartz, who wrote the music and lyrics to the musical, and Winnie Holzman, the original playwright, will adapt the script together.
Erivo and Grande announced their casting on their respective Instagrams, with screenshots of the two actresses on FaceTime and flowers they sent to each other.
A film adaptation of Wicked has been discussed for years, and in 2012, Universal Studios announced that it would be producing the film with Stephen Daldry as director. In 2016, the film was set for 2019, but due to production scheduling, the movie got stalled (and the infamous Cats movie snagged its former release date). The film was then put on hold again due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In February 2021, Jon M. Chu took over as director.
Both actresses have musical theater experience, with Erivo winning a Tony, Grammy, and daytime Emmy for her role in the revival of The Color Purple. Grande got her start on Broadway, before starring on Victorious on Nickelodeon and launching her pop career. Her theater-kid roots have never left her, though, and she performed “The Wizard and I” at The Wicked 15th Anniversary Special. For Grande’s take on Glinda, check out her appearance on pop star Mika’s “Popular Song,” which remixes Glinda’s iconic “Popular.”
Wicked is set to start production next summer. No further casting news has been announced.