The prequel to “The Wizard of Oz” premieres Friday night, featuring stars Mila Kunis and James Franco. But also featured in the film is Michiana native and Penn High School grad, Mikey Witous.
Standing at just four and half feet tall, Mikey is a dwarf. He’s also an incredible athlete -- making him the perfect fit to fill one of the roles as a Munchkin.
When NewsCenter 16 first spoke to Witous three years ago, he was a fantastic wrestler on the verge of making a run in the state tournament. However, complications of his dwarfism ended it all in the blink of the eye when doctors told him he could never wrestle again.
But Mikey said it did not fully hit him until he walked into the gym at Penn High School on senior night.
“Wow I'm in blue jeans and a sweat shirt and everyone else is in their singlet ready to go,” MIkey recalled.
That night his coach, Brad Harper, told the crowd that Mikey would never be able to wrestle again. And the crowd responded by giving Mikey a standing ovation.
“It was hard but it made me stronger. It helped me pursue things later down the road that I wouldn't be able to do,” Mikey said.
That next step down the road for Mikey was the big screen. Just one year after finding out he would never be able to wrestle again, he was cast as a munchkin in the movie “Oz, the Great & Powerful.”
Mikey was pleasantly surprised when he found out what movie he would be in, “Sam Rami, director of ‘Spiderman.’ James Franco. Mila Kunis. Man this is going to be a great film. This is crazy.”
Filming the movie was quite the experience, between all of the rehearsals and time spent on set. Mikey noted how it left a lasting impression on him.
"I think we rehearsed our part like 200-300 times. The music you'll hear in the film, it's in the back of your head. You’ll wake up sometimes, having a dream--seeing it, and you are like that's weird."
But not all the memories were so bad. “They had the yellow brick road down. You’re just like in shock that you are standing in the yellow brick road and you realize this is a movie and that you are going to be in the movie. It’s pretty cool that I have a part in the Wizard of Oz."
Between the memories and the memorabilia Mikey has all that he needs. He says that despite this Hollywood stint, his goals are to become a teacher rather than a movie star.
“Get a job at some elementary school and coach wrestling. I'm not in it for the fame or fortune. I don’t want to continue on with that.”
He did say that if he does get a call for another movie part he will definitely consider it, but he is pretty serious about sticking to and achieving his goals. Currently, Mikey is a junior at Holy Cross College studying education and has already started coaching wrestling at Discovery Middle School.
To celebrate Mikey’s big movie debut his parents rented out an entire theatre at Movies 14 in Mishawaka.