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Cynthia Erivo on Singing with Ariana Grande in Wicked: "She's Got a Family Member for Life Now"

"I don't think we realized that our voices would fit so well together," the Drift actress and Broadway star told Fallon about Elphaba and Glinda's harmonies, sharing Grande's funny term for their process.

By Samantha Vincenty

Actress and singer Cynthia Erivo was a guest on the final The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon episode of 2023, and she delivered a gift: A bit of info on the eagerly-anticipated Wicked movie, starring Erivo and Season 21 The Voice coach Ariana Grande.

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Erivo, who's just one Academy Award away from a full EGOT, is as known for her singing talent as she is for acting in films including the upcoming Drift: She was a musical guest in her previous appearance on The Tonight Show in 2021, performing "You're Not Here" from her album Ch. 1 Vs. 1. Returning to sit down for a chat with Jimmy Fallon, the Host couldn't resist asking about Wicked. 

Fallon told Erivo that he'd taken his two daughters to see Wicked, the stage musical the film is based on, on Broadway the previous weekend.

"It was phenomenal," Fallon said. 

"It's one of those magical pieces, yeah," Erivo agreed. 

Fallon asked Erivo if she remembers the first time she saw Wicked herself. "I saw it the first time when I was 25, and I took myself for my birthday," Erivo told Fallon. "I took myself on a date."

This prompted Fallon to ask Erivo if she ever in her "wildest dreams" thought she'd be playing the movie version of witch Elphaba, a role originated by famed Broadway performer Idina Menzel. 

RELATED: How Ariana Grande's Anticipated Role in Wicked Inspired Her Tattoo

"Do you know what I realized today?" Erivo said. "That actually, the year that I knew that I was doing it—the year that I got the part—was 10 years exactly from when I saw it. I saw it on my 25th, and I got the part when I was 35."

Cynthia Erivo speaks to Jimmy Fallon

"No way!" Fallon said, and shared the teaser image for the Wicked film, in which Erivo is barely visible in her full Elphaba outfit, pointed hat, broomstick and all. 

"I'm a little witchy," Erivo said, as she waved her witch-green nails over the image in close-up.

Cynthia Erivo talks singing with Ariana Grande on the Wicked set—or "worming"

Split of Cynthia Enrivo and Ariana Grande

Filming on the two Wicked films, which paused production in 2023 during the SAG-AFRA strike, is nearly complete, and Erivo says she's "so excited."

"It just is a wonderful, wonderful vibe," Erivo said of the set. "We're working really hard."

"And how's our pal?" Fallon asked about their mutual friend Grande, who plays Glinda the "good witch" in the adaptation. 

"She's good," Erivo said. "The connection that we've made is really special. She's got a family member for life now." The film clearly does mean a lot to Grande as well, given that the pop star has gotten Glinda tattooed on her hand. 

"How do you harmonize?" Fallon asked, referring to the musical numbers the two will perform as Elphaba and Glinda.

"I don't know that we realized that our voices would fit so well together," Erivo revealed. "Our voices are very, very different. But when we sing together, it just works."

"[Grande] calls it 'worming,'" Erivo added, sharing the Grande's term for their process. "I don't know why. We sort of find each other. "

"I cannot wait for this," Fallon told Erivo. "You're going to crush it!" 

By the way, Erivo's as good a whistler as she is a singer, and proved it later in the interview with an incredible whistle version of "I'll Be Home for Christmas."

Who else is in the Wicked movie?

Universal Pictures' two-part adaptation of the Wicked musical (itself based on the 1995 novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire) boasts a major cast.

Ariana Grande portrays Glinda The Good Witch, a role first played by Grande's friend Kristen Chenoweth. Erivo is the co-lead as Elphaba, the misunderstood Wicked Witch of the West. 

Directed by Jon M. Chu, the films also feature Saturday Night Live cast member Bowen YangBridgerton's Jonathan Bailey, Michelle Yeoh, and Ethan Slater.  Wicked Part 1 will premiere on November 27, 2024. 

"I am endlessly grateful to play a role that turns the notion of what beauty is on its head, I am endlessly grateful to be working with some of the most beautiful souls on the planet and I’m already grieving for the day our little bubble must come to an end," Erivo wrote in a June 2023 Instagram post about making Wicked. "I desperately hope that when you finally see this film, you’ll see you, you’ll see me, you’ll see Jon and Ari and our hearts laid bare, you’ll see pain and joy and maybe just maybe you’ll see a little spark of light that says, you are who you are for a reason and you are deserving of happiness and even though sometimes it might be hard to find, it is there for the taking."