James Franco in talks for Oz: The Great and Powerful

James Franco, who recently received an Oscar nomination for his career-changing performance in 127 Hours , is in talks to star in Oz: The Great and Powerful .

Robert Downey Jr was once attached to the title role in Sam Raimi's Wizard of Oz prequel, and then Johnny Depp entered talks to replace him.

It seemed like Depp was almost a lock, but he ultimately passed on the movie last night (he'll be busy on Tim Burton's Dark Shadows pretty soon anyway).

Now Heat Vision are reporting that Franco is the latest contender for the role, having entered early talks about headlining the project.

Franco is younger than the other names mooted, but perhaps that could work in Oz 's favour (it is a prequel after all). He has proved how far he can disappear into a role in 127 Hours , and his talents are nothing if not diverse.

He has also worked with Raimi before, on the Spider-Man trilogy. The multi-talented actor enjoys writing, directing, stage performing and various other cultural pursuits, which a big role like this could cut into.

Nothing's signed yet, and apparently Franco hasn't yet started discussions with Raimi, but expect to hear an official announcement soon.

Franco will be present the 83rd Academy Awards ceremony with Anne Hathaway on 27 February 2011.

Matt Maytum
Deputy Editor, Total Film

I'm the Deputy Editor at Total Film magazine, looking after the long-form features there, and generally obsessing over all things Nolan, Kubrick and Pixar. Over the past decade I've worked in various roles for TF online and in print, including at GamesRadar+, and you can often hear me nattering on the Inside Total Film podcast. Bucket-list-ticking career highlights have included reporting from the set of Tenet and Avengers: Infinity War, as well as covering Comic-Con, TIFF and the Sundance Film Festival.