Friday, March 1, 2024

‘Wicked’ First Look: Ariana Grande and Cynthia Erivo in Costume

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We’re certainly not in Kansas anymore. The first official teaser for Wicked, starring Grammy-, Tony-, and Emmy-winning actor Cynthia Erivo and Grammy-winning pop star Ariana Grande, has been unveiled, revealing director Jon M. Chu’s Oz for the very first time. Now, VF has an exclusive portrait of Erivo and Grande in character as Elphaba and Glinda, the witches whose friendship-turned-rivalry fuels the story, as well as the first interviews with the cast and filmmakers.

Grande and Erivo tell VF they’ve become inseparable friends while making the movie—matching Wicked tattoos and all—and sound thrilled to be together again so soon after the shoot wrapped in January. “I actually told my mom I was really relieved we don’t have to miss each other that long,” says Grande.

As for Glinda and Elphaba’s relationship, Grande says it’s defined by “a really selfless love and friendship. They’re both each other’s first real friend, a person who accepts them for everything that they are.” Erivo seconds that: “Once they figure out that they’re actually different sides of the same coin, they see each other clearly.” She hopes Wicked can teach an important lesson: “We are all different and the same, and the differences that we have actually make us really special. Hopefully we use those differences to introduce ourselves to one another. We aren’t pushing people away because they’re different, but we’re opening up because they’re special.”

For Chu, Wicked is more than a megahit Broadway musical. “This is the American fairy tale,” he tells Vanity Fair. “We are in a time where we are reassessing the story of life in America. What is truth? What is a happy ending? Is the yellow brick road the road to follow? Is someone really there on the other end who’s going to give you your heart’s desire?”

The first installment of Wicked seeks to answer those questions and more. Book writer Winnie Holzman and composer Stephen Schwartz, who adapted the Broadway show from Gregory Maguire’s novel, collaborated with Chu and Wicked producer Marc Platt to adapt the stage production for the screen. The result was apparently so splendiferous that the team felt Wicked needed to be not one but two feature films. Part one takes flight on November 27 this year. The second hits theaters November 26, 2025.

“We didn’t want to end up making one four-hour movie and then cutting out songs. We want to satisfy the fans of the musical,” says Platt. “Film allows you to create a place and a time—a university like Shiz, an extraordinary Emerald City governor’s mansion. There’s so much more to explore.”

Finally, we now have a glimpse at those worlds, inspired by L. Frank Baum’s classic novel and Joe Mantello’s stage version. Chu’s film realizes the hallowed halls of Shiz University and the viridescent streets of Emerald City in the most opulent way possible. “Wicked on the biggest screen had the opportunity to be the grandest, most spectacular, epic musical experience of all time,” Chu said. “It was just like, ‘Let’s put everything into this.’”

The glittering cast also includes Oscar winner Michelle Yeoh as Madame Morrible, Fellow Travelers star Jonathan Bailey as Fiyero, Tony nominee Ethan Slater as Boq, newcomer Marissa Bode as Nessarose, and Jeff Goldblum as the legendary Wizard of Oz.

In this portrait, taken by Sophy Holland, Grande wears a bubblegum-pink gown and tiara reminiscent of the outfit Glinda the Good wears when she first encounters Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. Erivo, meanwhile, sports Elphaba’s really, uh, sharp witch’s hat. The pair stare directly into the camera, two friends ready to face their destiny.

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