Robert Downey, Jr. no longer ‘Oz, the Great and Powerful’

Is Robert Downey, Jr. just looking to take a vacation?  After pretty much working non-stop since the success of “Iron Man” in 2008, the 45-year-old actor has now dropped out of his second 2011 project within the past two months.  First, Downey, Jr. withdrew from Alfonso Cauron’s “Gravity” after following the film from Universal to Warner Bros. and a chorus of different leading ladies (George Clooney stepped in to save the film).  Now, Heat Vision reports that Downey, Jr. has decided to drop out of Sam Raimi’s “Oz, the Great and Powerful.”

Currently wrapping up production on “Sherlock Holmes 2,” the only other film Downey, Jr. has on his slate is “The Avengers” which isn’t expected to shoot until this Fall. Either the actor has something else in the works or is looking for some much needed rest.

In the meantime, the report also indicates that Walt Disney Studios is pitching it’s favorite blockbuster leading man, Johnny Depp, to step in for Downey, Jr. The “Alice in Wonderland” star has been fairly active the past few years and is already slotted to shoot “Dark Shadows” with longtime collaborator Tim Burton this Spring.  Additionally, he’s attached to re-team with Gore Verbinski for “The Lone Ranger” sometime in late 2011. It appears however, that Disney would push back “Ranger” to make sure Depp could star in “Oz.”  One has to wonder, however, how different is the Wizard from the quirky characters he’s played in both “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “Wonderland”?  Disney might not care, but moviegoers and Depp should.

Look for more on this story as it develops on HitFix.