An Inside Look at "Oz The Great and Powerful"

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OZ_TRIPTYCH_DEBUT-1_thumbIn 1939, The Wizard of Oz, a movie based on the novel by L. Frank Baum was released and over the years has become one of the best known of all films and part of American popular culture. This movie was known for its use of special effects, Technicolor, fantasy storytelling and unusual characters.

Keeping to that tradition, Walt Disney Pictures presents, Oz The Great and Powerful, a film directed by Sam Raimi that takes us back to Emerald City to tell the story about the great Wizard. As a cinematic prequel to the book “Oz The Great and Powerful” explores the backstory of the wizard, offering audiences both a unique and amazing movie-going experience.

“Oz The Great and Powerful” features a stellar cast that includes Academy Award nominee James Franco as Oscar Diggs, the predestined Wizard; Golden Globe nominee Mila Kunis as the tormented young with Theodora; Academy Award winner Rachel Weisz as Theodora’s older sister, Evanora, the witch who rules over the Emerald City; and three-time Oscar nominated actress Michelle Williams as Glinda, the Good Witch.

The cast also includes Emmy and Golden Globe nominee Zach Braff, who plays Franco’s circus assistant, as well as lending his vocal talents to the CGI created creature Finley, the winged monkey who accompanies the magician on his magical journey through Oz. Serving as the magician’s conscience; and 13-year old actress Joey King, plays a girl in a wheelchair at the circus and voices another CGI character, China Girl, the porcelain child who also joins the duo on their excursion through Oz. The film was produced by industry veteran Joe Roth.

In a recent press conference, we had the opportunity to chat with the filmmakers and the cast. (Hear the full audio transcript below).

Sam Raimi was asked about if he worked with James Franco before and was it easy to direct him. “Working with James Franco was great, we learned to trust each other. It was a brand new experience to work with him as the lead on this film.” He added that he took the journey through his eyes and understand what they were going through together. He also noted that directors and actors has a personal relationship.

Weisz and Williams were asked about their costumes in the film, they mentioned that they were most important in the film. They spent a lot of time in the wardrobe department trying to get a feel for each costume. Williams also added her favorite costume was the battle costume. Weisz has never done a film that the costume was as important as the film. She added that it was a cross between something very regal and glamorous and also a spurt of prey. The character of Evanora is sort of a military dictatorship ruling over Emerald City.

Watch The costume and make-up featurette:

Producer Joe Roth was asked about his unique challenges when producing this film. He mentioned that this was a challenge for so many reasons. Getting the cast together was tough, trying to get the most popular stars of today since they always work all the time. He added the timing of bringing everyone in, was a big challenge.

When James Franco was asked what his original reaction to watching the original Wizard of Oz, said that led him to read all the books. He loved the world of Oz and as a young child, he loved being transported to a fantasy world. Mila Kunis, read Return to Oz when she was 9 years old. She watched The Wizard of Oz as a child and has fond memories and remembers as her favorite movie.

Franco enjoyed taking on the part of Oscar Diggs and exploring the origins of the wizard. He describes Oscar by saying, “He starts off a little bit rakish. He’s a magician in a traveling circus. When he ends up in Oz, all of the issues that he wrestled with in the real world are now, in some ways, made more extreme but also transformative.”

Joe commented on how Director Sam Raimi wanted physical sets in addition to CGI heavy sets.

Zach Braff who plays Oz’s trusted circus assistant, before the character travels to the world of Oz, “He’s the carnival magician’s right-hand man and under appreciated assistant.” In the Land of Oz he plays the flying monkey, Finley, “Through the course of the film, they go on this journey together and become buddies with each other.”

Joey King who voices China Girl which also exists in the opening scenes in Kansas as a young girl confined to a wheelchair who watches Diggs perform his magic act, then begs him to help make her walk again, which he cannot do. In the Land of Oz, China Girl’s legs are broken and this time, Oz can do something about it. James Franco added, “He does rise to the occasion in helping her, to the point that his magical ‘cure’ causes her to think that he is the Wizard everyone is expecting.”

Although some of the characters in “Oz The Great and Powerful” are familiar from L. Frank Baum’s books, they have been reimagined, plus there are many never-seen-before characters in the film.

Read our full spoiler free movie review here.

“Oz The Great and Powerful” is now playing in theaters.

Press Conference Audio Part 1:

Press Conference Audio Part 2: