THIS IS PART OF A SERIES OF ARTICLES. HERE IS THE COMPLETE LIST OF INTERVIEWS PUBLISHED SO FAR.
Interview with James Franco – OZ
Interview with Mila Kunis – Theodora
Interview with Mila Kunis – Theodora – OZ Spoilers
Interview with Rachel Weisz – Evanora
Interview with Director Sam Raimi
Interview with Michelle Williams – Glinda
Post on the OZ Premiere at the El Capitan Theatre in LA
James Franco certainly knows how to make an impression. He arrived at the red carpet premiere of the movie OZ The Great And Powerful in a hot air balloon. When he arrived for our private interview session with him, he suggested we all show him pictures of our families so everyone could get to know one another. I am a longtime fan of james Franco. I enjoyed his dark character in the Spiderman movies. I absolutely loved him as Franco on General Hospital. It was thrilling for me to be able to hear him talk about his work on OZ.
Q : Were you a fan of the Wizard of Oz growing up?
JAMES : I was. When I was a boy, that was tthe days before Harry Potter was around, I read all of the L. Frank Baum Oz books on my own. They were some of the first books I read for pleasure outside of school. And it was fourteen or fifteen that he wrote, and I just sped through them. I remember there was a local book store, um, called The Printer’s Ink in Paulo Alto. It’s gone now, unfortunately. It was an independent book store and they had all the Oz books there, and I remember just like getting excited seeing all of them and, you know, going through each one. So that was my Harry Potter, I guess.
Q : What was your most memorable moment in filming the movie?
JAMES : It, I mean, frankly, it wasn’t hard. It was all pretty enjoyable. It was a very long shoot. It was six months but, I was working with my old friend, Sam Raimi and all the other actors and actress were great to work with, so it was mainly just long, but it was enjoyable all the way through, so, I don’t know. It was fine. I mean, there’s nothing I can think back and be like, oh, that was so hard to do.
Q : What was your favorite part with the magic, and can you do it in real life now?
JAMES : I can. Well, I had to train. I trained with a Vegas magician, Lance Burton and he showed me a lot of the secret tricks and I got pretty good at it. There’s a scene in the beginning of the film where we see Oz, doing his act in the traveling circus. And there were more tricks in the original act that I learned so I could make doves materialize out of nothing and pull rabbits out of hats. But, it didn’t make the cut. But it was, it was fun to learn anyways.
Q : How was this role different for you compared to Spiderman?
JAMES : Well, so in the Spiderman films, I play Harry Osborne who is a supporting character. And, the thing I’ve learned about Sam Raimi is that he identifies with the characters in a lot of his films. And so when we did the Spiderman films, he identified it with Peter Parker. And even though he and I got along very, very well, and became very good friends, I felt like I was not getting the full sunshine of his love because I was playing the character that was trying to kill his alter ego.
And, so now in this film, I’m the lead and again, I think Oz is a stand-in for certain sides of Sam, you know. Sam has a little- he has a nerdy side and a childlike side, but he also can be a little bit of a trickster, I guess. And, in addition to that, Oz in an entertainer. He deals in, he creates illusions to entertain people, and that’s exactly what Sam does.
And, so I’m finally playing the character that he identifies with, so I get all of his love. So it’s great, yeah.
Q : Did Sam give you license to add personality yourself? (NOTE: This was actually my question. I told him I had enjoyed him in the Spiderman movies, and absolutely loved him on General Hospital. I told him that I liked how hard he worked to create an interesting and complex character, and wanted to know how much of his own character he was able to add to the character of OZ.)
JAMES : Well, Sam is a very collaborative director. Not only he collaborates with the actors, but with everybody. And so everyone is welcome to bring things to the table. And so with the character Oz, not only did we rehearse in advance two weeks of the film, we rehearsed throughout the film.
So I actually didn’t ever have a lunch to myself. I was spending all my lunches going over the script and the scene with Sam and the other actors, and through that process, I think the character of Oz changed quite a bit.
In fact, some of my students are here from my English class at UCLA, and we looked at an early draft of the script. Disney doesn’t haven’t have to worry. I had everything numbered and, you know, got all the scripts back, but, I was surprised at how different that early draft was to where we ended up and, that’s just because of the way Sam works, and the way the project develops through the whole process. So I’m sure some of me made it into the character that wasn’t originally on the page, yeah.
Q : Who’s your favorite witch to work with?
JAMES : That’s a hard question. You’re gonna get me in trouble, but, they’re all, they’re some of the best actresses alive. We’re very fortunate to have all of them, and they’re all very different, and the roles are very different. So each one, you know, was enjoyable but a very different experience, and I was glad to have all of them.
Q : How was it working with Finley and China Girl?
JAMES : Right. So, Zach Braff plays the flying monkey, Finley, and, Joey King plays the China Girl, the doll made out of porcelain. And those were some of my favorite scenes. I thought they were just great characters and great kind of oddball sidekicks to have in the land of Oz. And then I loved Joey and Zack. I would do anything with them.
They’re great collaborators. The actual process of interacting with CG characters is it’s own kind of thing, but, filmmakers and actors are getting more and more use to it. So it’s not as if I’m just acting to nothing the whole time. There’s a process you go through, and I think I got great training on, a movie I did called Planet of the Apes where I got to work with Andy Serkis, who you know, played Gollum, and then played Caesar in my film, and he’s kind of the master of this performance capture kind of filmmaking.
And, so you go through a series of different kinds of takes. So in the early takes, Zach would be there with me so I could interact with him, and then for the China Girl, there was a great puppeteer who could bring this puppet to life, and then I would hear Joey’s voice in my ear. And he would, too, and he’d make the doll react to her, to what she was saying.
So you do those in the early takes and if the animators, or the computer animators want to, they can always use my side of those takes and then paint out Zack or paint out the puppet. But then, well, at the end of that series of takes, once the scene is sort of ingrained in me or, or I know the flow of the interaction, they’ll always take them out. So I will eventually have a take where I’m acting to nothing and if you were a guest that day and saw that, you’d think, you know, I’m an insane person or something.
But, by that point, I know it. And I still get to hear their voices in my ear. So it’s not like I’m making all of it up. I still get most of, you know, what, I get as a performer from interacting with another person.
Q : Do you ever sleep. How do you manage all that you do?
JAMES : Um, I do sleep, you know. I do a lot of things but I’m in the fortunate position that, you know, my job is what I love and so I don’t need a relief from it like, you know, who doesn’t like their job does. And so I just kind of move from project to project because it’s how I enjoy life.
So it seems like I’m doing a lot of things but it’s really just because I fill all of my time with these things rather than half of my time. And, I sleep about six hours a night.
Here’s the latest trailer.
Synopsis – Disney’s fantastical adventure “Oz The Great and Powerful,” directed by Sam Raimi, imagines the origins of L. Frank Baum’s beloved wizard character. When Oscar Diggs (James Franco), a small-time circus magician with dubious ethics, is hurled away from dusty Kansas to the vibrant Land of Oz, he thinks he’s hit the jackpot—fame and fortune are his for the taking—that is until he meets three witches, Theodora (Mila Kunis), Evanora (Rachel Weisz) and Glinda (Michelle Williams), who are not convinced he is the great wizard everyone’s been expecting. Reluctantly drawn into the epic problems facing the Land of Oz and its inhabitants, Oscar must find out who is good and who is evil before it is too late. Putting his magical arts to use through illusion, ingenuity—and even a bit of wizardry—Oscar transforms himself not only into the great wizard but into a better man as well. “Oz The Great and Powerful” is produced by Joe Roth, with screen story by Mitchell Kapner and screenplay by Mitchell Kapner and David Lindsay-Abaire. Grant Curtis, Palak Patel, Josh Donen and Philip Steuer are serving as executive producers. “Oz The Great and Powerful” opens in U.S. theaters on March 8, 2013.
“Oz The Great and Powerful” opens in U.S. theaters on March 8, 2013.
OZ Website and Mobile site: www.Disney.com/TheWizard
OZ The Great And Powerful on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/OzTheGreatAndPowerful
OZ The Great And Powerful on Twitter: https://twitter.com/disneyozmovie
I attended this event as a guest of Disney, with all expenses paid. As always, any personal opinions reflected in this post are my own and have not been influenced by the sponsor in any way.