It takes a lot more than some well done special effect in order to make a great fantasy movie. One of the obvious key ingredients to a film is the cast of actors hired to bring the normal and extraordinary characters to life on the big screen. When we're dealing with a major picture such as Disney's Oz The Great And Powerful, it's time to bring in some high quality actors to bring some of the most universally beloved characters in this origin story. Actors , and talked for a bit about what made each one of their characters fantastic on paper, enough to take them on in the biggest movie to come out this March.
What was it like working with again but in a completely different film?
James Franco: I love Sam. I've known Sam for over ten years because we did the Spider-Man trilogy together. He is one of the most fun directors to work with and that is no small thing. A director on a film really sets the tone of how people go about things. So when you have someone like Sam, everybody is happy to be at work, everybody does their best. He's a very collaborative director, not just with the actors but with all the departments. It really makes people want to do their best because they all feel like they're a big part of the movie and they are. I love working with Sam. I'd do anything with him.
[Mila Kunis'] character, without giving anything away, has an incredible story arc. Sam said that you came up with the idea of playing a woman scorned. I was just wondering if you could talk a little bit about that process.
Mila Kunis: It was one of those things where I got very nervous about playing such an iconic character. I didn't want to ruin it and I didn't want to re-create it and I didn't want to re-interpret it. And so if I needed to wrap my head around it I needed to make sense of her origin. It was just given to me kind of like a gift. Here's a girl who's incredibly naive, very young and doesn't believe that she's worthy of love and wants to experience love, meets James's character, falls madly in love with him, at a very quick time but nonetheless, and then gets her heart broken. She probably doesn't have the emotional tools of dealing with heart ache, doesn't want to deal with it, takes the easy way out given to her by her sister, and goes through an emotional transformation that's mirrored by a physical one. But I honestly view her as just a normal girl who gets her heart broken who just so happens to be a witch that can fly.
Can you comment on following in the footsteps of Margaret Hamilton because her performance is from another era. It's a very broad character performance. Could you talk a little bit about how you navigated that previous performance and updating it without loosing the mad cackles.
Mila Kunis: It's damned if you do, damned if you don't, and the character is incredibly frightening. She's very phenomenal and did create such an iconic character going on eighty years now. It's associated with so many things, let alone Oz, halloween or witches in general, that I wasn't going to touch it. There's no way I'm ever doing it justice. And so this is the 21st version of this I guess which has a bit of a corset involved, a little tighter and not hunched over so much. But what she did will forever be in my mind the greatest witch of all time. It's like a love letter to her in a way.
[Joey King's] character China Girl looks really sweet and innocent but beneath the surface she's completely different. What was your take on her?
Joey King: Oh she's evil. No, I'm kidding! She's very delicate, her appeareance is that way anyways, but her personality is definitely contradicts with her looks. She's very feisty, sassy and she manipulates Oz and Finley. They totally get duped by this 14-inch little girl who's made of porcelain. She's definitely manipulative and she's very calculating and very smart. But I like her, she's funny.
Mr. Franco, you had to learn magic for the movie. What was that like, the process, and since then have you used it to show off?
James Franco: I got to learn with Lance Burton who's this great magician from Las Vegas. It was pretty fun. There were even more tricks than what made it into the film that we just had to cut some of them for time. I got to learn quite a few pretty cool tricks that if I took them to parties I probably would get a lot of attention. I need a lot of help from Lance in order to pull them off and he doesn't travel around with me. It's just sort of one of the skills I've learned along the way like swordfighting or flying a plane that I just don't use very much after I'm done with the movie.
Your character is a bit cocky, a womanizer. Could you comment on your character's transformation and working with Mila Kunis once again?
James Franco: I'll answer the second part first. Mila and I have worked on many projects at this point. Some very big like Oz The Great And Powerful or Date Night. Some smaller projects I've yanked her into. While we were in Detroit she did a movie with some of my students from NYU. We've done internet things so I love working with Mila. She, and Joey, are my favorite actresses to work with. I really had a great time with the both of them. I had a meeting with Sam and I heard that Mila was getting involved or already signed on. So that was one of the big reasons, one fo the few reasons I wanted to do the movie. It was great! We have a great dynamic and she's a great actor. One of the things about Mila is she's just a great collaborator. She's very easy-going. She's done a lot of comedy so she's very good at doing improvisation, figuring things out in a very organic way.
The character I think as written was very much Sam's idea. I think it was one of his big contributions. When you deal with Oz as a subject of course you have a fantastical land, so I had faith that the producers, the designers and everyone would be able to create a spectacular world. But you don't want a movie that's a journey through a fantastical world. You want the characters to have their own inner journeys. I think it was sam's idea, or maybe a collaboration with the writers, that the character would also have an inner journey. He would start off in one place and have room to grow once he got to Oz. And I thought as kind of selfish as he is, as much of a cat as he is in the beginning, it would never go to the point of where he's unlikeable because all of his manipulations and conning of people, he's sort of played for laughs. I can't quite blame him for being the way that he is because of his history. He grew up in circumstances where he just wanted to get out, he just wanted something different, so performing he saw a way out. So he got a little too far in his ambitions and it's blinded him to the love of the people around him, but in another sense you can't blame the initial reasons for being the way that he is.
Oz The Great And Powerful is out in theaters now.