James Franco is reportedly wanted by film bosses to take on the lead role in the Wizard of Oz prequel to be directed by Sam Raimi after both Robert Downey Jr. and Johnny Depp passed on the part.
The movie tells the tale of a young illusionist who is forced to flee a travelling circus in a hot air balloon and ends up in the land of Oz – which is run by two magical wicked witches – after being swept off course by a tornado.
If the 32-year-old actor does accept the role, it would see him reunite with Spider-Man director Raimi for the first time since 2007’s Spider-Man 3. Joe Roth is producing the project, the set of which is already being constructed by Disney with production expected to start in the second half of 2011.
It is believed time constraints caused Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides star Johnny to pull out of the film as he has a number of movies coming up including The Lone Ranger and Dark Shadows with Tim Burton.
James – who will host the Academy Awards on February 27 with Anne Hathaway – has been nominated for a Best Actor Oscar for his role in 127 Hours.