We have been changed for good after the latest announcement that none other than Michelle Yeoh will be joining the cast of the long-awaited Wicked movies from director John M. Chu.
It was well over a year ago that we heard the big-screen adaptations of the Broadway smash-hit had cast its bewitching leading ladies, and we were starting to get antsy. But, with principal photography said to have begun in November, the past few months have brought a slow trickle of updates, culminating in this week’s thrilling casting coup.
With the (controversial) decision to split Wicked in two, the first of the films isn’t slated to hit theaters until late 2024, but now that we have our core cast (more or less) lined up, it’s time to run down the roster to take a closer look at who’s playing who—and why they’re perfect for the part.
Cynthia Erivo as Elphaba
Oh, no big deal, just one of the most awarded and accomplished stage and screen performers working today. The queer star’s first major breakthrough came in the Broadway revival of The Color Purple, which won her a Best Leading Actress Tony in 2016, a Grammy for the musical’s theater album, and a daytime Emmy for her televised performance from the show—she was nearly an EGOT right out of the gate! She’s since gone on to star in Widows, Harrietand the Genius: Aretha Franklin series, to name a few.
Why she’s great for the part: Have you heard her? No disrespect to Idina Menzel—who originated the role on Broadway—but Erivo is a one-of-a-kind musical talent, and she’s going to completely own this role of the misunderstood “Wicked Witch of The West.”
Related: Want to know a real-life queer superhero? Look no further…
Ariana Grande as Glinda
Pop princess supreme, Grande is one of the best-selling musical artists of her generation, with a four-octave vocal range, to boot! She grew up in theater, and made her Broadway debut in the musical 13 at the age of 15, which she then followed up with a regular role in Nickelodeon hit Victoriousand its spin-off Sam & Cat. She’s released 6 acclaimed albums over the past decade, accumulating 15 Grammy nominations and two wins. But, if you’re gay, you probably already knew all of that.
Why she’s great for the part: Grande really has got the presence and the pipes to play the perky soprano witch, Glinda, opposite Erivo. And, as proven by her surprisingly great appearances on SNL (as well as her Nickelodeon sitcoms), girl has some ace comedic timing, too.
Jonathan Bailey as Fiyero
A classically trained theater actor, Bailey’s been racking up credits in London’s theater scene since he was a kid, from Les Miserables you Company. Of course, most international audiences had the pleasure of first meeting him as Viscount Anthony Bridgerton in the regency-era Netflix smash, Bridgerton, which elevated him to the starring role in its second season, to great acclaim. And the gay actor is only going up from here, starring next in the buzzy series Fellow Travelers opposite Matt Bomer.
Why he’s great for the part: In Wicked, Fiyero is the life of the party, a smooth operator known for his charm and good looks. That basically describes Bailey, too—we mean, just look at the guy! Is it too greedy to ask John M. Chu to add in some shirtless scenes for him?
Related: That time ‘Bridgerton’s’ Jonathan Bailey took his modesty thong out for a public spin
Michelle Yeoh as Madame Morrible
Current Oscar Best Actress frontrunner and living legend Michelle Yeoh really needs no introduction. Early in her career, she cut her teeth in Hong Kong action films, before starring in a number of global hits, like James Bond film Tomorrow Never Diesthe game-changing Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragonand the award-winning Memoirs Of A Geisha. She’s a beloved actress who never feels like she’s gotten her due—until now, with the meteoric success of Everything Everywhere All At Once.
Why she’s great for the part: Plenty of legendary actresses have played the role on stage (Carol Kane, Miriam Margolyes, Alexandra Billings), and we’ve no doubt Yeoh can pull off the role of this sly and seductive headmistress with panache. Plus, she was in Chu’s Crazy Rich Asiansso the two already have a fabulous working relationship.
Jeff Goldblum as The Wizard
One of our most versatile actors with a distinctive style all his own, Goldblum can do it all: Massive blockbusters (Jurassic Park, Independence Day), strange sci-fi (The Fly, Powder), quirky comedy (The Grand Budapest Hotel, Portlandia), and even celebrated dramas (The Big Chill, Fathers & Sons). He also moonlights as a jazz artist, leading a small orchestra in a weekly cabaret act that’s played in both New York City and Los Angeles over the years.
Why he’s great for the part: Aside from the musical experience, Goldblum just makes sense for the dithering Wizard who—like in The Wizard Of Oz—is much more neurotic than a man that his reputation suggests. We should note, the latest update says he’s still “in talks” for the role, so no confirmation yet, but it just feels right.
Ethan Slater as Boq
Essentially the only cast member so far who’s not a household name, Slater has nevertheless built an impressive resume for himself at just 30 years old. His TV credits include Fosse/Verdon and Law & Order: SVUbut his work has largely been in theater, including his star-making turn in the beloved show, SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical—in the titular role! That part earned him a Tony nod and a Drama Desk win, and ensured great things were ahead for Slater.
Why he’s great for the part: Boq is a nerdy and insecure Munchkin—basically the Yin to Fiyero’s Yang, but he’s still got his charms and a surprisingly strong voice, a bill which Slater most certainly fits. And, hey, don’t forget: This is the guy who managed to make SpongeBob hot! Have you seen those biceps?
Related: Spongebob Squarepants, The Broadway Musical’ is Nostalgic AF for Queer Millennials
Recently, Deadline broke the news that the Wicked films have rounded out (most of) their ensemble, continuing the trend of casting names that have got us very excited. Here’s a quick rundown of who they are and who they’ll be playing (many of which seem to be expanded roles, pulled from the novel Wicked was based on):
- Marissa Bode as Nessarose: Elphaba’s younger intelligent, and wheelchair bound sister, Nessarose (“Nessa,” for short), is a smaller but key role in the musical. Bode also uses a wheelchair, and has appeared in a handful of short films, stage plays, and musicals. Wicked will mark her major feature debut.
- Bowen Yang as Pfannee: One of Elphababa’s classmates as Shiz, Pfannee is a fellow Munchkinlander who nevertheless is clearly #TeamGlinda. Yang is, of course, one of our favorite queer stars working today! In addition to his work on Saturday Night Livehe can also be seen in gay rom-coms Fire IslandComedy Central series Awkwafina Is Nora From Queensand can be heard on the hit pop culture podcast, The Bodybuildersopposite his comedy partner Matt Rogers.
- Bronwyn James as ShenShen: ShenShen is another Shiz student who very much runs in Glinda’s social circle. James’ credits include Harlots, The End Of The F***ing World, The Dig, Ghostsand Slow Horses.
- Keala Settle as Miss Coddle: Here’s where we admit we perhaps have some blindspots in the Wicked lore, but who doesn’t know who Miss Coddle is! Presumably a teacher at Shiz? In any event, she’ll be played by Settle, a Broadway veteran with a show-stopping voice that you’ll definitely know from The Greatest Showman. Her pipes helped make “This Is Me” a proper gay anthem, and a favorite at karaoke bars/drag shows for years to come.
- Aaron Teoh as Avaric: Boq’s roommate, Avaric is another well-to-do Shiz student who is said to be a frenemy of Elphaba’s. Teoh is an accomplished stage actor in the UK, with credits that include Merrily We Roll Along. and The King and I.
- Colin Michael Carmichael as Nikidik: Doctor Nikidik is among the faculty at Shiz. He’ll be played by Carmichael, a British actor who has shown up in Hot Fuzz, Outlander, Secret Diary of a Call Girland the Black Mirror episode, “Fifteen Million Merits.”
The Dillamond Dilemma
And, finally, is Dr. Dillamond—essentially Wicked‘s moral compass, and a real father figure to Elphaba (who also happens to be a talking goat). Hidden under prosthetics, fans are pretty divided on who should play the role. But if there’s one thing everyone seems to agree on, it’s that The Late Late Show host James Corden should not play the good doctor. Now that Corden has shown up in movie musicals like Into the Woods, Cats, The Promand Cinderellaa Change.org petition was going around to keep him out of the movie—and it currently has over 100,000 signatures!
Related: ‘Wicked’ fans band together to ban a certain actor from joining the cast…