The Disney film "Oz: the Great and Powerful" premiers this Friday. It's a story about how the Wizard landed in Oz – way before Dorothy and Toto entered the picture. And it turns out a local man ended up being cast in a part for the film.
His name is Mikey Witous, and for him it was the chance of a lifetime. The Granger man, who wrestled at Penn High School for four years and is currently an assistant wrestling coach at Discovery Middle School, plays a Munchkin in the prequel to the 1939 classic "the wizard of oz."
It all started a couple of years ago, when he was attending the Little People of America conference in California.
“And I was competing in the Dwarf Athletic Association of America national games, and the casting directors for the movie were going around,” Witous recalled.
He said they were looking for athletic-built little people. At the time, he wasn't sure what movie was involved, but filled out paperwork for them. A week later he got a call.
“And it was pretty interesting to get that call and then find out this was actually a big film,” Witous told WSBT. “It was with Disney and everything.”
He ended up being cast as one of 45 Munchkins for the film – but he also did stunt work.
“They hired about 20 stuntmen, Munchkins, so we called ourselves ‘Stunchkins.’”
He says he recently spotted himself in the trailers for the movie. A scene where the Wizard stops and talks with tall men that he mistook for soldiers and later finds they are Munchkins perched on each other’s shoulders.
Witous says, all told, he spent a total of two and a half months combined on set for the film that was shot in 2011 near Detroit.
Right now he is attending Holy Cross College, and says he has his mind set on being a teacher as a career.
“I'd rather do that my whole life than have to work paycheck to paycheck for movies now and then,” Witous said.
But he said he will always be grateful to be a part of the film.
Witous says he'll see the movie Friday, when it opens locally, with his family.