Jon M. Chu Says ‘Wicked’ Film Will Feature Live Vocals From Ariana Grande, Cynthia Erivo

When audiences see Wicked on the big screen, director Jon M. Chu promises to expect live vocals.

In a preview with Vanity Fair, the director shared that both Ariana Grande and Cynthia Erivo insisted on singing live during the production. Grande stars as Glinda, opposite Erivo’s Elphaba in the film.

More from The Hollywood Reporter

“These are live vocals,” Chu said. “When we were shooting it, those girls were like, ‘Fuck the pre-records. We’re going live.’ ”

Despite feeling skeptical and questioning the decision (“There’s going to be a lot of wind in your air pipes. Is that okay?” he recalled asking), Chu said the stars “didn’t miss a beat” and said, “Yeah. That’s what we do.”

While performing “Defying Gravity,” Erivo “had a harness pulling and pushing and yanking and tugging on every nook and cranny that there is,” Grande described. Meanwhile, Erivo said of Grande: “I’m literally never going to forget you jumping on a chandelier over my head whilst singing.”

Michelle Yeoh, Jonathan Bailey, Ethan Slater, Jeff Goldblum, Marissa Bode, Keala Settle, Bronwyn James, Adam James and Bowen Yang also star in the film alongside Grande and Erivo.

Marc Platt and David Stone, who produce the film, brought Wicked to the stage when it debuted in 2003. Wicked become the No. 2 highest-grossing Broadway show of all time, behind The Lion King.

To bring the beloved stage show to screen, Chu said he aimed to “do it the way I dreamed about it as a kid when I watched Hook.”

“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,’ ” he said. Vanity Fair details that for the film “an actual train transports the witches to the Emerald City” and “the yellow brick road came complete with mud.”

Grande was so determined to star in the Wizard of Oz prequel based on Gregory Maguire’s novel that she said she “stalked” the audition process: “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.’”

Chu took notice of how the pop star would “be there at least 30 minutes early.” “I’d see her car circling. I’d be like, ‘Who is that?’'” Chu said. “‘That’s Ariana Grande.’ ‘Why is she here so early?’”

The first trailer for part one of a two-part adaptation of the Broadway musical premiered during the Super Bowl in February.

The first of Chu’s two Wicked movies releases on Nov. 27 in theaters.

Best of The Hollywood Reporter