If recent reports were in fact true, it looks like Sam Raimi has lost a big casting battle against Disney as they put together his next film Oz: Great and Powerful. Rumor had it back in April that Raimi really wanted to cast Hilary Swank as one of the main witches in the Wizard of Oz retelling, but that the studio was pressuring him to go with Michelle Williams instead; today Variety reports that Williams has gotten the job, and she won't just be playing any witch, but the iconic Glinda the Good Witch.

In this telling of the story there are three central witches, as opposed to the two in the original Oz film; Rachel Weisz and Mila Kunis play the evil sisters while Williams is working on the side of the Wizard, a snake-oil salesman who lands in Oz and helps Glinda fight for control of the kingdom. Williams will be far from the first person to play Glinda in the 21st century-- Glinda is one of the two main characters in Broadway's hit Wicked, the musical that's still scheduled for a movie version at Universal, but is probably on hold until Raimi's Oz shows up in theaters, which Variety says could happen as early as fall 2012.

It's a shame that Williams's casting may have come against Raimi's will-- remember, we don't actually know what went on behind the scenes, or even if Swank was actually interested in taking the part. But seeing Williams come on board is especially interesting given that, since leaving Dawson's Creek, her film career has almost exclusively focused on indies. She never played the ingenue in a superhero blockbuster like so many of her contemporary actresses, and even now seems to be playing a much better developed female character than you usually get in movies of this scale.

This casting also indicates that Williams is pretty much fearless-- this year she's already playing another movie icon, Marilyn Monroe, in My Week With Marilyn, and now she's moving on to recreate one of the most enduring characters in cinema history. Regardless of how she wound up in the film, let's hope she and Raimi see eye to eye as Oz: Great and Powerful goes into production; it's the rare giant blockbuster with a lot of potential, and adding a name like Williams to the already-terrific cast increases the odds of us getting something great.

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