London Press Conference for Oz the Great and Powerful
Following the media screening for Oz the Great and Powerful I was lucky enough to be invited to the UK Press Conference at Claridge’s Hotel in London.
To my delight it was well attended by the main A-list cast. The great man himself, director Sam Raimi was at the helm and answered all questions with boyish enthusiasm and looked very smart all suited and booted. He was flanked by a very laid back ginger haired James Franco. All three witches were there Rachel Weisz (Evanora) looked stunning and had the grace of a movie star. Michelle Williams (Glinda) was sporting an extremely short blonde hairstyle and didn’t very comfortable being at the conference and pretty much gave short answers. But it was Mila Kunis (Theodora) who really grabbed the moment by the rains. Not only did she radiate beauty and sex appeal but she didn’t let anyone down and answered most of the questions in full and really appeared to enjoy the experience.
I also discovered that Zach Braff is a really funny guy and brought a great deal of light relief to the conference just as he does in the movie.
Here’s what the good and mighty had to say.
Sam Raimi: (Director) What made you agree to direct Oz?
“People don’t want their warm feelings towards this great classic sullied. They don’t want somebody stepping on their fondest memories of their childhood. That’s why I stayed away from the script at first. Later when it came time to find a writer for another project the script came across my desk. I thought I’ll read it just because I’m looking for a good writer and I fell in love with the story; one of a selfish man who deep within him has his heart buried and he doesn’t appreciate the friendship of his friend or the love of his life who’s right there. He gets transported to the wonderful Land of Oz, and there through the land of second chances he finds the love of that same friend now reincarnated as a monkey and the love of a good woman Glinda (Annie in the other world). He wants to become worthy of her and his good heart emerges and he becomes selfless and I thought that’s such a sweet story and very moving to me.”
James Franco: (Oscar ‘Oz’ Diggs AKA The Wizard) On being involved in the movie.
“I heard that Sam was doing this movie and that was probably the number one reason I did the three Spider-Man’s with him and I’ve known him over ten years. Not only is he one of my favourite directors to work with but I’m a fan of his films so I jumped at the opportunity to do this. I have also been a fan of the odd world of Oz since I was a boy having read all 14 of the L Frank Baum books when I was a kid. So I was very excited because of that and to be able to step into that world of my childhood imagination. Then I just wanted to be sure that Sam had a sound approach to the movie. So when I read the script I saw that of course he had a very smart way to do it. I saw that they were going to be loyal and respectful of everything we lovers of Oz expect.”
Mila Kunis: (Theodora) How did you prepare for the role?
“I didn’t want to emulate or imitate or do anything that would take away from the iconic character that Margaret Hamilton created in the 1939 film, which will always remain iconic. But I was given the gift of a back story, the origin of the character that humanizes her in a way which was very simple. It’s just a girl who gets her heart broken and doesn’t know how to deal with the pain. She takes the easy way out, numbs the pain and has an emotional transformation that just so happens to also be a physical one. And the second she became human to me is when she went through that, everything else is secondary. She’s a woman scorned who just happens to know how to fly.”
Mila Kunis: (Theodora) On ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ rumours.
“Gosh this Fifty Shades of Grey thing is just not going leave is it? No you will not see me in 50 shades. I’m so sorry.”
Rachel Weisz: (Evanora) Did the costumes help you get into character?
“I really loved the script and loved the character and wanted to play somebody wicked, but my character would have been nothing without the sequins, the feathers, the lashes, the corsets, the boots and the nails. I only usually play characters in jeans and t-shirts with a bit of a scrubbed face but Evanora took a couple of hours to get into place. Her costume was hugely important, how the feathers make her look a bit like a bird of prey. And she is a ruler of her army of winged baboons.”
Zach Braff: (Frank / Finley) On playing an animated CGI character.
“ I never read the books so it was tricky for me because I was creating this new character, whereas with the witches there was something to look to. If anything I loved the idea of being the comic relief like the Lion, the Scarecrow and the Tin Man were and the physical comedy of it all. You can make a beautiful effects movie that is grounded, has a heart and has a foundation of really human characters. But when I heard that it was happening I just wanted to be involved because of the great maestro Sam Raimi.”
Mila Kunis: (Theodora) If you could cast a spell in real life what would it be?
“If I could cast a spell, I’d make sure that Sam used me in all his movies.”
Zach Braff: (Frank / Finley) “If I could cast a spell I’d make Mila appear in Fifty Shades of Grey!”
Oz the Great and Powerful was reviewed March 4. See it at your local cinema from March 8.