Robert Downey Jr.’s New Year’s Resolution: Work Less.

To keep that resolution, he’s dropped out of Sam Raimi’s  Oz: The Great and Powerful.

Sam Raimi’s Resolution: Catch a goddamn break, oh wait, that’s not really a resolution, argh.

Heat Vision brings us the story, but with no further detail on why Downey split from the project.  It’s the second high profile gig Downey has dropped in recent months, the other being Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity.   They’re all 2011 films, so it may simply be The Avengers are crowding in on his time.

But a replacement already circles the the project.  Johnny Depp is reportedly interested in taking the role, which thrills Disney to bits.  However, Depp is another man of busyness, since he’s supposed to shoot Dark Shadows and The Lone Ranger this year.  It puts Disney in a tough position. They want Oz off the ground as soon as possible, but Ranger can’t afford another delay, especially since they’ve finally pinned Gore Verbinski down as director.

It’s unfortunate that Downey has dropped out.   No one sells a  “grandiose attitude” better than he does, and he’s proven to be more than capable of carrying a franchise. Then again, he’s in danger of stereotyping himself as that Starkesque figure who is stuck in some hyper-real world.  You know, kind of like Depp has in recent years. (I love them both. I do.  I just worry that what we like about them will become annoying and stale.)

You know who they should call? Colin Firth.  He’s hilarious, he does pompous beautifully, and he’s hilarious given half a chance. He also can put a lot of heart and warmth into any character, no matter how insufferable.   I think he can carry an American film now, and if he wins a Best Actor Oscar,  he’ll be a good catch for any franchise.

But hey, that’s my two cents, and they’re undoubtedly colored by Love, Actually.   You probably know a witty gentleman who would be a good Oz, too.  I await your suggestions.