On February 17, 2013, I had the privilege of attending the press junket for ‘Oz The Great and Powerful’ at the Langham Hotel in Pasadena, CA. Hosted by Walt Disney Studios, we were given a chance to talk to the cast, director, and producer of the new film that returns us to the magical land of Oz, and get to ask them questions about the film’s production, hear stories from the set, and so much more. The junket consisted of two different panels, so I felt that the best way to talk about the event was to separate our coverage of the event into two separate posts, to give you the most in depth look at it. The second part will cover the panel with director Sam Raimi, actor Zach Braff, and actresses Rachel Weisz and Michelle Williams.
In case you missed the first part you can read it here!
The second panel for the day was really a treat. Zach Braff casually walking in declaring “It’s just me, everyone! Don’t worry, I’m here.” Many know Braff from his years on TV as doctor John Dorian, or J.D. for short, in the NBC series ‘Scrubs’. He’s then joined at the table by director Sam Raimi, who very humbly thanks all of us in the press for coming out. Finally, Michelle Williams and Rachel Weisz join Sam and Zach at the table and we’re off onto another excellent panel of stories, information, and fun.
Out the gate, someone mentions that Raimi enjoyed playing homage to the 1939 ‘Wizard of Oz’ film, so asks him in jest if we sync up Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side of the Moon’, will it make sense like the album does with the original. It was a light start to the panel, but it got a good laugh, and it’s hard not to enjoy it. Raimi is really an open book about being involved in the film. When asked about if it was easier to work with James Franco this time, considering it was their fourth film working together, Raimi went on to talk about how when he makes films, he likes to get into the head of his protagonists. He said that while working on ‘Spider-Man’, since James was the antagonist of the film, he never shared the same short hand relationship with James and they weren’t as close. But now, with him being the protagonist of ‘Oz’, they developed a whole new relationship of working together, and it’s one that he would love to continue with. I find that Raimi continually gets many of the best performances out of Franco, so I really hope this isn’t the last time the two work together, because they really are a great duo together, because I still think that Franco is one of the best part of Raimi’s original ‘Spider-Man’ trilogy.
Another person brought up the fact that all the actresses in the film had a very classic Hollywood beauty in the film, and if that was intentional. It’s a great answer by Raimi, saying there wasn’t much more that he had to do to make them that way, because he’s already working with three of the most gorgeous actresses in the business, which Zach Braff chimes that there’s one gorgeous monkey as well, talking about his character Finley. That actually led to Zach getting a strong complement about how excellent his work was in the film, and how strong the performance is just in his facial features of Finley, down to the tone of his voice. As we learned earlier, Zach would be in a room, on set, while they were filming scenes with his character, where there were cameras watching him at all times, trying to get his facial expressions and actions, so they could animate them close to how he was acting. He goes on to say how impressed he was on how close the animators stuck so close to his expressions. Sam quickly jumps in, pointing out that at one point the animators had begun to deviate from how they were animating Finley, and he asked them to reign it back in, so that the character would look and act just as Zach did. Zach also spent a good amount of time gushing over Sam, one of the best moments coming from “He had me at ‘Sam Raimi wants to talk to you.’”
Rachel and Michelle were asked quite a bit about their costuming, asking if they had any any say on how their costumes looked, which was their favorite, and many things of that nature. Michelle said there was one point where one of the dresses she was wearing just wasn’t working correctly, and she couldn’t get comfortable, so there was actually a day where shooting was delayed to help accommodate her so they she could make the dress work. Rachel never had any of those problems, and she really seemed to love all the dresses she was given.
But I think the most interesting question came from someone who asked what it was like for these actors, who were used to working on much smaller films, going to one of these big budget films and trying to promote it. They asked if they found it much harder to support these or if it was easier. Michelle said that it was much easier promoting a film like this than a smaller film, because with a film like this, it’s much easier to sell if because you have more means to do it. When it comes to smaller movies, a lot of the time you only have yourself and other actors to sell it, and you don’t have the same kind of backing. It was a very honest, but very good answer, and one that really does seem to ring true throughout Hollywood.
What I’ve taken away from both of these panels, is really, there was a lot of love, time, and care put into this film, and everyone wanted to make the best movie possible out of it. They knew the odds were stacked against them, but they trudged ahead knowing that they weren’t trying to top ‘The Wizard of Oz’, but merely set out to tell more stories in L. Frank Baum’s magical world, and hopefully make something that people will embrace. It’s really something that stands out to me, and I can’t wait to share my full thoughts on ‘Oz The Great and Powerful’ on March 8. Until then, I hope you enjoyed our in depth look at the press junket from the film, and learned some cool new stories, and enjoyed reading it. Below is the entire audio from the second panel, featuring all of the above, and so much more, including a brief part where Sam talks about the similarities of ‘Oz The Great and Powerful’ and ‘Army of Darkness’, and shares that there’s never a bad time to punch Bruce Campbell, his long time friend and colleague, in the face.
‘Oz: The Great and Powerful’, starring James Franco, Mila Kunis, Zach Braff, Rachel Weisz, Joey King, and Michelle Williams, and directed by Sam Raimi will be released March 8, 2013.
- ‘Oz The Great and Powerful’ Press Junket – Part 1 (chipandco.com)