Billy Magnussen, who plays Rapunzel's Prince, played the sexy and self-indulgent role of Spike in the Tony Award-winning play "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike." In the play, his character dresses up as Disney's Prince Charming for a costume party. Before the play ended its run on Broadway, Magnussen was cast as Rapunzel's Prince for Into the Woods (2014), which is produced by Disney. Magnussen had to leave the show in August to fly to London to begin rehearsals for the film.
A few of the cast members, including Chris Pine and James Corden, have revealed in interviews about working with Meryl Streep was the best professional project of their career, as well as intimidating. Corden was highly nervous to work with Streep's star power.
The first people director Rob Marshall cast for the film were in the following order: Meryl Streep as the Witch in Spring 2013, Johnny Depp as the Wolf, James Corden as the Baker, Chris Pine and Jake Gyllenhaal as the princes, Emily Blunt as the Baker's Wife, and Christine Baranski as Cinderella's Stepmother. The rest were cast later. There were rumors that Emma Stone was being considered for the film, it is not reported which role, and Jim Carrey was mentioned for the role of the Baker. Chris Pine later replaced Jake Gyllenhaal as Cinderella's Prince and Billy Magnussen replaced Chris Pine as Rapunzel's Prince.
Rob Marshall's fourth movie musical as director.
Into the Woods (2014) marks the first theatrical film adaptation of a Broadway play or musical ever produced by The Walt Disney Company in its history.
Before Tracey Ullman was cast as Jack's Mother, Allison Janney and Kathy Bates were in talks for the role.
The original 1987 Broadway production for "Into the Woods" starred Bernadette Peters as the Witch, Joanna Gleason as the Baker's Wife, Chip Zien as the Baker, Tom Aldredge as the Mysterious Man/Narrator and Barbara Bryne as Jack's Mother. The first Broadway revival in 2002 starred Vanessa Williams as the Witch, John McMartin as the Narrator/Mysterious Man, and Laura Benanti as Cinderella. Both Broadway productions were directed by James Lapine the librettist. In July of 2012, New York's Shakespeare in the Park production featured Donna Murphy as the Witch, Amy Adams as the Baker's Wife, and Denis O'Hare as the Baker.
This is not the first time Meryl Streep has been involved in a film adaptation based on a stage play or musical. Others include Marvin's Room (1996), Doubt (2008), Mamma Mia! (2008), and August: Osage County (2013).
Lilla Crawford replaced Sophia Grace Brownlee as Little Red one week after filming began.
To help getting the project green-lit, a number of actors attended a table read, including: Nina Arianda (as The Baker's Wife), Christine Baranski (Cinderella's Stepmother), Tammy Blanchard (Florinda), Victoria Clark (Cinderella's Mother/Granny/The Giant), James Corden (The Baker), David Garrison (The Narrator), Ivan Hernandez (The Wolf), Megan Hilty (Lucinda), Cheyenne Jackson (Rapunzel's Prince), Allison Janney (Jack's Mother), Anna Kendrick (Cinderella), Michael Mcgrath (Steward/Mysterious Man), Donna Murphy (the Witch), Laura Osnes (Rapunzel), Taylor Trensch (Jack), Casey Whyland (Red Riding Hood), and Patrick Wilson (Cinderella's Prince).
Johnny Depp's second film adaptation of a Broadway musical since Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007), also a Stephen Sondheim musical.
Filmed in approximately 4 months; September to December 2013.
Alan Cumming was considered to play The Wolf.
The original 1987 Broadway production of "Into the Woods" earned Tony Awards for Best Original Score (Stephen Sondheim) and Best Book of a Musical (James Lapine) beating "The Phantom of the Opera" (Andrew Lloyd Webber). However, "The Phantom of the Opera" took home the Best Musical award.
In earlier drafts, the essential Narrator character from the original stage musical was still part of the story. Before the role was written out of the script, many actors were either considered, in talks, or asked to play the role including Jeremy Irons, Christopher Plummer, Geoffrey Rush, James Earl Jones, John Cleese, Michael Caine, Michael Gambon, and Alan Rickman. There were even rumors about giving this role to a female such as Julie Andrews or Angela Lansbury who are both Disney favorites as well as experts on Stephen Sondheim's material.
The songs from the original stage musical that did not make it into the film adaptation are "Cinderella At the Grave", "I Guess This is Goodbye/Maybe They're Magic", "Our Little World", "First Midnight", "Second Midnight", "Act I Finale: Ever After", "So Happy", and "No More."
Catherine Zeta-Jones, Michelle Pfeiffer, Penélope Cruz, Donna Murphy, Idina Menzel, Miranda Richardson, Kate Winslet, and Nicole Kidman were considered for the Witch.
Overall, the screen adaptation by James Lapine is fairly close to his original stage musical. The only large change is the replacement of the Narrator using the Baker's voiceover for the narration. Another noticeable change is the cut of the Mysterious Man. The role played by Meryl Streep is a combination of both the Witch role and the Mysterious Man, but ultimately the witch.
There have been several other attempts to bring "Into the Woods" to the screen. At one point in 1994, it got as far as a reading at Penny Marshall's house, with Robin Williams, Goldie Hawn, and Cher; later, it was developed at Columbia Pictures with director Rob Minkoff attached and Billy Crystal, Meg Ryan, and Susan Sarandon in talks to star.
Matthew Broderick, Andrew Rannells, Colin Firth, Johnny Depp, Denis O'Hare, and Jim Carrey were considered for the Baker.
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