Does Robert Downey Jr. have commitment issues, or what?
First he was set to join Sandra Bullock in Alfonso Cuaron's "Gravity," only to drop out and be replaced by George Clooney, and now Johnny Depp is in discussions to take over the title role in Disney's "Oz, the Great and Powerful," according to the Hollywood Reporter.
While there's absolutely no need to make a quasi-prequel to the beloved 1939 classic "The Wizard of Oz," I was OK with the idea because Downey Jr. would've been fun to watch as the mysterious man behind the curtain.
But Depp? Don't get me started. What has happened to this guy? Remember when he was cool? Think hard, because it was a while ago. "Edward Scissorhands?" "Ed Wood?" "Dead Man?" You remember now, right?
Well cherish the memories, because those days are long gone.
The once-interesting actor is now content to star in big-budget fluff. First "Pirates of the Caribbean" and "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," then "Alice in Wonderland" and now "Oz," not to mention those ghastly "Pirates" sequels, with two more on the way!
Oh, how I'd love to see Depp do something actually worthwhile for a change (sorry, but "The Tourist" doesn't cut it and "Public Enemies" was a bit of a disappointment), but alas, this is what we're stuck with — another variation on the same wacky character that has become Depp's trademark of late.
If it sounds like I have strong feelings about Depp's recent choices, that's because I do, but at this point, I don't even have the energy to elaborate on how bad they've been.
Sam Raimi is directing "Oz, the Great and Powerful," which concerns a young illusionist with a grandiose attitude who's forced to flee a traveling circus. When his hot air balloon gets caught in a tornado, he's swept to the magical, mythical land of Oz, which is run by not one, but two wicked witches.
The project is a high priority for Disney, which also has Depp playing Tonto in Gore Verbinski and Jerry Bruckheimer's update of "The Lone Ranger."
"Ranger" isn't as far along in the development process as "Oz," and if Depp officially signs on to the latter project, Disney will likely be forced to push the other film back if it wants to stick with Depp, though ideally, the studio would love him to do both movies.
The scheduling may prove difficult, however, as Depp is set to shoot Tim Burton's "Dark Shadows" this spring, plus he's being courted for other movies all over town.
Joe Roth is producing "Oz," which doesn't have a start or release date yet, though production is tentatively scheduled to begin in the second half of 2011.
Regardless of when the film hits theaters, Downey (who never officially signed on) is no longer attached to the project, and "Oz" fans will be left to wonder what might have been.