James Franco Replacing Downey, Depp in ‘Oz’ Prequel?

'Green Hornet' actor could be heading to Emerald City later this year.

William Bibbianiby William Bibbiani

James Franco Replacing Downey, Depp in 'Oz' Prequel?

We told you we’d keep you updated: two weeks after Robert Downey Jr. gave up the lead role in Sam Raimi’s Oz, The Great and Powerful, casting talks have resumed in earnest. Johnny Depp was Disney’s favorite contender for the role – a carnival con man whose hot air balloon is swept off to the magical land of Oz – but The Hollywood Reporter has revealed that not only has Depp passed on the role (he’s busy, okay?) but it could go to 2011 Oscar nominee and co-host James Franco instead. 

Franco’s star is on the rise lately. After years of playing second (eh… make that fourth) fiddle in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man franchise, he’s carved out a niche for himself as a professional funnyman in films like Pineapple Express and the upcoming Your Highness, and developed some real credibility as an actor with disarming indie roles like 127 Hours and Milk. Though not an established megastar like Downey and Depp, his youthful appeal (and, you know, talent) could make him perfect for the role. Plus, he kinda-sorta has an ‘in’ with Sam Raimi, who kinda-sorta owes him one for Franco’s weak Green Goblin subplot in Spider-Man 3. Kinda. Sorta.

Will James Franco take the (pineapple) express to superstardom with the tent pole* release that is Oz, The Great and Powerful? Check back in with CRAVE Online for more news as it develops.

*Carnival humor. You love it.