Good news! It looks like the Wicked adaptation has found its prince. It was announced that Bridgerton star Jonathan Bailey will portray the handsome and carefree prince Fiyero in the upcoming adaptation of the smash hit Broadway musical. He will star alongside Cynthia Erivo as Elphaba and Ariana Grande as Glinda.
Bailey is a veteran stage actor, first appearing in the RSC‘s production of A Christmas Carol as a child, and soon after making his West End debut in Les Misérables as Gavroche. Most recently, he starred in Cock at London’s Ambassadors Theatre. Despite his prolific theater credits, however, most viewers will recognize Bailey for his starring role in Netflix‘s hit Regency romance drama Bridgerton, where he plays Anthony, Viscount Bridgerton, the eldest sibling of the titular family.
Though he appeared in the first two seasons, and is confirmed to appear in the third, which is filming now, it was in Season 2 that Bailey took center stage as the male lead for the season’s primary romance, opposite Simone Ashley‘s Kate Sharma. Though many, myself included, felt Season 2 lingered a touch too long on the love triangle between Anthony, Kate, and her sister Edwina (Charithra Chandran), his chemistry with Ashley was undeniably one of the highlights of the season. If there’s one thing Bailey has shown he can do extremely well, it’s romantic pining and longing, something he will need as the Wicked films explore Fiyero and Elphaba’s blossoming romance amid politicial tensions in Oz, and Fiyero’s apparent affections for Elphaba’s best friend Glinda. Jonathan Bailey, pining, and a love triangle? Oh yes, this does sound familiar, Bridgerton fans.
It was announced back in the spring by Wicked director Jon M. Chu that the team had decided to split the film into a two-part adaptation, in order to do justice to the material. While this could be simply a matter of taking their time with the story, it could also be that the storytellers are seeking a way to weave in aspects from Gregory Maguire‘s original novel on which the musical is based. Given that the two are very distinct — with the book being much heavier, and far more grim — it will be interesting to see what kind of balance, if any, is struck.
Of the choice, Chu said:
“As we prepared this production over the last year, it became increasingly clear that it would be impossible to wrestle the story of ‘Wicked’ into a single film without doing some real damage to it. […] So we decided to give ourselves a bigger canvas […] With more space, we can tell the story of ‘Wicked’ as it was meant to be told while bringing even more depth and surprise to the journeys of these beloved characters.”
Wicked Part One is expected to release in December 2024, with Part Two following in December 2025. In the meantime, check out original Broadway cast members Norbert Leo Butz and Idina Menzel singing Fiyero and Elphaba’s duet, “As Long As You’re Mine” below:
Update: A previous version of this article stated that Jonathan Bailey was in talks to play Fieyro, the film’s director has confirmed his casting.