It took Dorothy and company a whole movie to lift the veil on "The Wizard of Oz," but the better part of a hundred years has given this weekend's "Oz the Great and Powerful" cinema-goers a touch more preparation for what to expect from the younger version of that man behind the giant curtain. Sure, the new installment revolves around how the Wizard came to be in the first place, but fans can likely expect to see all the kooky smoke and mirrors trickery of old come through just the same.
Really, the biggest distinction might exist within the two chaps playing the guy, Frank Morgan and James Franco. Upon inspection of even their most generic biographical details, the two pretty much seem(ed) to be exactly the opposite of one another. Seriously, the differences between the gents are almost comically severe.
For starters, Frank Morgan came from New York City and was the eleventh (11th!) child of spirits sellers, while James Franco was born in Palo Alto, California to a pair of Stanford-educated intellectual types - a writer and a businessman - and was the first of three boys.
Morgan attended Cornell University right out of the high school gate and brothered up with the boys at Phi Kappa Psi, while Franco, who'd been through the legal ringer a few times already during his disaffected youth, dropped out of UCLA his freshman year and started working the fryer at McDonald's to afford his acting class pursuits. In all fairness to James Franco, though, he made up his education in spades and now boasts multiple fine arts degrees from prestigious schools (not including Cornell). He's even said to have set a record for most credits taken in a single semester.
Next, Old Francis M. got his first big break by appearing on the Broadway stage, while James, who supposedly went by the name Ted at some point in his wacky adolescence, sloughed through various TV guest spots in L.A. before landing the now-cult classic one season series "Freak and Geeks."
Franky got hitched at the tender age of twenty-four - the same year he started acting - and had a son, but James is still quite the eligible bachelor at thirty-four.
In his spare time, Frank Morgan fancied boating and hitting the family sauce, while James Franco seems to fancy himself a modern day Renaissance Man whose zest for activity has made him a teacher, a director, a painter, a writer, a musician and everything else under the umbrella of artistry. The two seem politically polar opposites as well, as James Franco exhibits a rather loosey-goosey sort of liberalism while Frank Morgan was regarded as a strict conservative.
As for their rumored behaviors on set, well, Frank Morgan was said to have toted around a briefcase full of mini-bottles while James Franco is known to do things like read Homer and James Joyce in between takes. On the other hand, Morgan has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and James Franco just received his first ... and brought an Oz doll with him to the ceremony.
These two gents might live on grouped in Hollywood history as the Wizards that once were, but we'll sure remember them to be two wildly different individuals.