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Original 'Wicked' star Kristin Chenoweth imparts Glinda wisdom to Ariana Grande for upcoming films

"I just want you to do you."

By Josh Weiss
Idina Menzel and Kristen Chenoweth of Wicked perform on stage


When a new actor takes on an iconic role, it's only natural for the previous individual associated with the character to graciously pass on a few pearls of wisdom to the next generation. Kristin Chenoweth did just that when she received a phone call from "a really nervous" — and equally elated — Ariana Grande shortly after the Grammy Award-winning artist landed the part of Glinda in Jon M. Chu's two-part film adaptation of Wicked (the first installment of which bows next fall) for Universal Pictures.

RELATED: Jon M. Chu's 'Wicked' movie starring Cythnia Erivo and Ariana Grande to be released in two parts

"She said, 'I want to pay homage to you, but I'm scared. I want to make you proud," Chenoweth — who portrayed Glinda alongside Idina Menzel's Elphaba in the original Broadway run of the hit musical, recalled during an interview this week on The Kelly Clarkson Show. "I go, 'Well, you've already made me proud, so it doesn't matter. You've checked on that. That's achieved. What I want to encourage you to do, Ariana, is make Glinda your Glinda. Sure, you can tip your hat to me if you want, but really, I just want you to do you. Because I've known her since she was 10 and now I see the full circle ... I'm just so proud of her. I can't wait to see her do it."

Watch Kristin Chenoweth tell Kelly Clarkson about her Wicked advice for Ariana Grande:

Academy Award nominee Cynthia Erivo (HarrietThe Outsider) stars alongside Grande as Elphaba, a green-skinned pariah who will one day be known by the citizens of Oz as the dreaded "Wicked Witch of the West." Long before she earned an ill-fated reputation for flying on broomsticks, commanding an army of flying monkeys, and kidnapping young women from the plains of Kansas, however, Elphaba was a precocious and kind-hearted student at Shiz University — where she roomed with the future Glinda the Good.

"I'm going to get to watch two women I know soar, and Ariana Grande is going to step so beautifully into my shoes," Chenoweth recently said during an interview with Entertainment Tonight. "I'm so excited for her, she's gonna put her own stamp on it."

Jeff Goldblum (playing the Wizard), Michelle Yeoh (Everything Everywhere All at Once), Jonathan Bailey (Bridgerton), Ethan Slater (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel), Bowen Yang (Saturday Night Live), Bronwyn James (Lockwood & Co.), Keala Settle (The Greatest Showman), Colin Michael Carmichael (Black Mirror), and relative newcomers Marissa Bode and Aaron Teoh round out the supporting cast.

It's unclear if Chenoweth and Menzel are set to make appearances — be they prominent or of the cameo variety — and neither is willing to spill the ruby slippers just yet. "I really...I really cannot," Chenoweth told ET when the subject came up. "I'm waiting and we'll see."

Wicked: Part One arrives on the big screen Nov. 27, 2024. Part Two is slated for release on Dec. 25, 2025.

Suddenly in the mood for some Oz-universe fun? Head on over to Peacock and check out The Steam Engines of Oz starring Ron Perlman, William Shatner, and Julianne Hough. You can catch The Kelly Clarkson Show weekdays on NBC or streaming on Peacock.