VANITY FAIR’s Exclusive Look Inside WICKED: Ariana Grande and Cynthia Erivo Talk Glinda and Elphaba

Posted on March 21, 2024


In a new exclusive for VANITY FAIR, staff writer Chris Murphy gets a sneak peek inside the making of WICKED. He also sits down with director Jon M. Chu, and the film’s leads Ariana Grande and Cynthia Erivo, who discuss preparing for their roles as Glinda and Elphaba, friendship, and more.


On the film’s production

“I was like, ‘I want to do it the way I dreamed about it as a kid when I watched Hook,’” Chu tells Vanity Fair. “Behind the scenes, Steven Spielberg was on a dock with a giant pirate ship. I’m like, ‘If this is my one opportunity to do this, I want to do that.’”

WICKED’s yellow brick road came complete with mud, and an actual train transports the witches to the Emerald City. And the singing? “These are live vocals,” Chu says. “When we were shooting it, those girls were like, ‘Fuck the pre-records. We’re going live.’” The director was skeptical. “There’s going to be a lot of wind in your air pipes. Is that okay?” he asked. They didn’t miss a beat: “‘Yeah. That’s what we do.’”

For “Defying Gravity,” Erivo actually sailed through the Western sky belting high F’s. “She had a harness pulling and pushing and yanking and tugging on every nook and cranny that there is,” Grande explains. Her own numbers were no stroll in the park. “I’m literally never going to forget you jumping on a chandelier over my head whilst singing,” Erivo tells her costar.

On preparing for the roles of Glinda and Elphaba

Grande has sought after the role for years and playfully admits to “stalking” the film’s producer. “It was literally 10 years of being like, ‘Knock, knock, any developments? Is there an audition coming this year, or next year? I would like to start preparing today,’” Grande tells Vanity Fair.

Erivo “honestly didn’t believe” she’d “be seen” for the role, and when she got the call she “was training like I was a boxer.”

On Grande and Erivo’s friendship

“When two giant stars come together, you never know what kind of egos come flying out,” Chu admits.

But Erivo and Grande forged a relationship that changed them for the better. “I just need to say that I don’t think people realize that she’s got the chops,” says Erivo. “I don’t think people realize how brilliant this person’s brain and voice and talent is.” She also paid Erivo a compliment, like the good witch she is: “She’s my favorite female voice. When I was watching you sing at the Oscars, I said, ‘I hope someday I get to sing with her.’”



[Photo Credit: Sophy Holland/Universal Pictures/Vanity Fair]

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