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And So It Begins

Meryl Streep Might Be Playing the Witch in Into The Woods, Just Start Molding her Oscar Now

We last heard that Disney’s Into the Woods movie was rolling into production over a year ago, with the director of 2002′s Chicago aboard to bring to life a version of the stage musical penned by its original writer. And that was exciting enough. But now, in an interview about his new stage musical, that writer, James Lapine, says that Meryl Streep is already on board.

There hasn’t been much development on the project beyond Disney’s initial press release a year ago. There’s no other half-way solid cast information (IMDB lists Allison Janney as rumored to be Jack’s Mother, though that’s never a particularly solid indication). But here’s what Lapine told the Litchfield County Times:

I am coming into an exciting time… My show, “The Road to Qatar,’ is being presented in London next month and then I am doing a revival of an old show, ‘Good News’ at the Goodspeed Opera House. And then the biggest news—they are doing a movie of the musical ‘Into the Woods.’ Disney is going to make the movie and I will do the arrangements. Meryl Streep will be the witch and it will be the first time I have worked with her since 1977 when we did ‘Happy End.

Of course, there’s been no official word at the moment from Disney, so this could mean anything from “casting is underway and Streep is in” to “Disney has had tentative first talks with her about appearing in the movie when it eventually rolls into production.” But we do so hope it’s the former. The Witch fo Sondheim’s meta-textual fairytale breakdown would be a great role for the actress, and her involvement in the project would signal that perhaps it’s reaching the last stages of pre-production and is actually guaranteed to hit theaters sometime in the next couple years.

For now, though, it’s not quite out of the w…

You know what, even I can’t go through with that one.

(via Cinema Blend.)

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  • Alana Beltzer

    Um, Bernadette Peters or GTFO.

  • Stacy Roth


  • Anonymous

    Gotta have Bernadette.

  • KittiesOfEvil

    Bernadette!!! Just not right w/out her. You know Disney is going to cut it to hell anyway you need someone who can hold it together.

  • James Gardiner

    I feel oddly indifferent about this. While Streep seems like a logical choice (unless she can’t sing), it feels like the fairy tale deconstruction has been plenty covered, and I doubt a film version of this would offer very much more.

    Then again, depending on the demographic Disney aims for, they might eject the deconstructive elements and just play it straight, which would make it even more uninteresting.

  • Anonymous

    I really hope Disney doesn’t murdelize this show. It is my favourite.

  • 3-I

    “We love this play so much that we simply HAVE to make a movie out of it! No, we don’t need any of the broadway cast we loved so much, don’t be silly.”

    Next, they’ll be writing new songs and telling the actors to growl or scream their lines. Honestly, how is Rent the only movie that got this right?

  • 3-I

    How are they even gonna do the stuff with the narrator in a movie version? =/

  • James Gardiner

    …Good question for which I have no answer.

  • Mandy

    One of my favorite actresses in one of my favorite musicals? YES PLEASE! Just make this happen & take my money k?

  • Mandy

    Remember Hercules? That had a narrator (though only in voice) for parts of the movie yes? Why would inserting a narrator into film scenes not work as well on stage?

  • 3-I

    Well, okay, there were two sets of narrators. There were the muses, who never interacted with the characters, and there was the voice-only one. The narrator in Into The Woods needs to be visible with the cast, and he needs to actually interact with them during one crucial scene in the second act.

    They KINDA did that with Rango. I’m just not sure how they’ll do it in a live-action film.

  • Justin O’Neill

    Into the woods came out in 1986. I guess you could get the original cast back, including Joanna Gleason to play the Baker’s Wife, but given she’s well past child-bearing age now, the whole plot really wouldn’t make sense. Also, they’d have to bring Tom Aldredge back from the dead to play the narrator.

    Rent worked with the original cast (though they replaced Daphne Ruben-Vega and Fredi Walker) because only ten years had passed since the show premiered and they could fudge the ages more. It just wouldn’t work for Into the Woods.

  • 3-I

    Hey, nobody said it had to be the ORIGINAL broadway cast. Just… ANY of the broadway cast. Into the Woods hasn’t just stopped being performed entirely anywhere on stage.

    This is the equivalent of doing a Les Mis movie and casting Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe. OH WAIT THEY DID AND IT SUCKED.

    Also, what I meant by bringing up Rent was that it didn’t decide randomly to cast actors who can’t sing, or edit the songs so they’re mostly growling or screaming. Compare, again, Les Mis, etc.

  • Mandy

    If people really want to see a theatre cast they can totally buy the dvd that ALREADY exsists! You even get to see Bernadette’s preformance as the Witch! IDK if people just don’t realise that recorded shows are a thing that already exsists or what but ta-da! Linkage:

    It’s a good recording too. AND you get to see the magic of the stage effects vs what will be probably more realistic CGI effects in the eventual movie. Which as a theatre major I enjoy. I mean, I love seeing theatre casts translate over into the movie a la RENT, but I don’t think it’s a be all end all in they aren’t. Esp when the movie adaption happens so long after the show first started. Casting people who can sing should be a must though. (unlike say Sweeney Todd. As much as I love that musical and love Johnny Depp that wasn’t a good adaption of the show IMO).

  • Mandy

    psst, you can already see her preformance as the Witch on stage here:

    (not that seeing her again in movie would be bad. Just IDK if people know that there are DVDs of live theatre shows out there.)

  • 3-I

    But that’s my point entirely: Hollywood keeps getting this wrong, dropping the people who made key roles work to replace them with bigger-name stars who can’t do the gig. Man of la Mancha did it, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum did it, LES MIS did it… Hollywood continuously fails to make these musicals work in adaptation because they don’t make the faintest attempts to carry over any of the stuff that made it so great in the original.

    (But I do appreciate you actually taking the time to answer what I said. Everyone else, I would appreciate it, if you disagree with me, that you present counterargument instead of downvoting a 2-month-old post like a friggin’ coward. =/)

  • Mandy

    Can we really put Les Mis in that category? I mean a good number of the cast HAVE been on Broadway before yes? Hugh Jackman (the reason I was so excited about the movie adaption actually. I love his voice.), Anne Hathaway, the girl who was Eponine at least have all been on Broadway. The Bishop was the orignal theatre Valjean too I believe (I actually haven’t seen the movie yet so I don’t know much about the rest of the cast. What about the students, were any of them theatre people too?)

    But yeah, more times than not I agree with you about Hollywood getting it wrong. Going for Big Name Actors vs people who have experiance in theatre/singing in general. YES the audience for musicals probably isn’t a big as other genres but it’d be nice for them to take more risks casting lesser known people for these types of movies.

    (The conversation also reminds me why, despite how much I love the musical Wicked I super worried about any rumors to adapt it to the big screen.)