AN INTERVIEW WITH JAMES FRANCO FOR THE IN-HOME
BLU-RAY COMBO PACK AND DVD RELEASE OF
OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL
Disney’s fantastical adventure Oz The Great And Powerful uncovers the origins of the beloved wizard character first brought to life in L. Frank Baum’s book The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz. As a cinematic prequel to the book, the eye-popping action follows the story of Oscar Diggs, a small-time circus magician with dubious ethics. When Diggs is hurled away to the vibrant Land of Oz, he thinks he’s hit the jackpot – until he meets three witches, who aren’t convinced he’s the great wizard everyone is expecting. Reluctantly drawn into epic problems facing Oz and its inhabitants, Oscar must find out who is good and who is evil before it’s too late.
Sam Raimi is the acclaimed director behind the action-packed spectacle, which boasts a stellar cast including James Franco as Oscar Diggs, the predestined wizard; Mila Kunis as the tormented young witch Theodora; Rachel Weisz as Theodora’s older sister, Evanora, the witch who rules over the Emerald City; and Michelle Williams as Glinda, the good witch.
With the Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD of Oz The Great And Powerful about to be released, we chat to James Franco to discover more about the project…
Is it true that you trained with acclaimed Las Vegas magician Lance Burton in order to tackle the role of Oscar Diggs?
That’s very true. We shot the movie in Detroit and they hired Lance Burton to come out and train me there. [Oz The Great And Powerful director] Sam Raimi was very insistent that I have two weeks of magic training, so I went to Detroit two weeks early in order to do that.
What magic tricks did you learn?
Lance taught me a lot of tricks, so I got to the point where I could materialize doves out of nowhere. I start with a flame in my hand and then I turn it into a dove. Or I take off my gloves and I turn them into a dove. I also know a ‘rabbit out of the hat’ trick and other things like that. I did all that work and then the scenes that were going to feature the magic tricks turned out to be too long, so they were quickly cut from the finished movie. We never got to see them on the big screen.
Do you know enough tricks to entertain at a children’s birthday party?
Sure, I could do that! A lot of the tricks involve intricate preparations, so I would need an assistant like Lance Burton to help me set them up – but I could pull it off. If you have any kids parties and you want to pay me a lot, I’ll definitely come and do it. [Laughs]
What does magic mean to you?
I wouldn’t say I am the biggest magic enthusiast, but I do enjoy that world. What’s the name of the guy who works with David Mamet? Ricky Jay. I really enjoyed his show, Ricky Jay & His 52 Assistants at the Geffen in Los Angeles. He’s a huge magic scholar. I would say that I definitely like the world of magic, but I am not a magic specialist.
What does the fantasy genre mean to you?
The first movie that I can remember seeing in theaters was Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal. I guess I liked it so much that my parents kept taking us back to see it over and over again. I saw it many times in the theater, so that maybe started the ball rolling for me with fantasy. Soon after that, my father read The Hobbit to me, and that was one of the main books that started my love of reading. That’s what got me reading the Oz books of Frank L. Baum, on which this movie is based. If we are talking about fantasy books, those were the two things that really sparked my imagination: the Oz books and the Tolkien books. It all started from there.
What is it like to work with Sam Raimi on a project like this?
Sam is one of the most fun directors to work with. A director really sets the tone of how people go about things, so when you have someone like Sam involved, everybody is happy. He’s a very collaborative director, not just with the actors but with all departments and it really makes people want to do their best because they all feel like they are a big part of the movie. I love working with Sam. I’d do anything with him.
What did you enjoy the most about working with the various witches of Oz: Theodora, played by Mila Kunis; Evanora, played by Rachel Weisz, and Glinda, played by Michelle Williams?
It was great because they all played very different witches, so the scenes that I played with all of them were all very different. With Mila’s character, Theodora, I play more of a seducer and charmer. Rachel’s character is trying to dupe me, so I play a little bit more of a fool or a buffoon with her. And then with Michelle’s character, Glinda, it’s more of a straightforward romance. It was nice to have that variety.
How would you describe your female co-stars?
I got to work with three of the best actresses working today, which was very exciting. They are all very different actresses, and they all played very different parts. But one thing I can say about them all is the fact that they are very good at doing research and background on their characters. I think Michelle read most of the books and did a bunch of research that really manifested itself in her scenes. She was very focused on detail. And with Rachel, we only had one or two scenes together, but she was very good at improvising and looking for alternative takes once we’d got the scripted scene down.
What was it like to work with Mila Kunis?
Mila is amazing. She’s a very talented actress who is great to work with because she’s so collaborative. She’s very open and she’s very quick on her feet. When I first met with [Oz The Great And Powerful producer] Joe Roth and Sam Raimi, they were already talking to Mila – and that was a big plus for me.
The sets created for the movie are incredibly impressive, but there was also a lot of blue screen work. Do you prefer to work on movies where you have to use your imagination and blue screen? Or do you prefer the ultra-realistic work of movies like 127 Hours?
I don’t prefer one or the other. I don’t think like that. When I look at a new film project, I don’t say, “Oh, I love independent films. That’s the only time I get to do what I truly love.” And I don’t say, “I only want to do big budget films.” I just think about what one wants to achieve with the film. With this film, half of the movie is a fantastical world that needs to be created in a particular way that costs a lot of money, so this movie needed to be made by a big studio. I was really happy and excited to be involved with it. I think it’s great.
You’re an actor, a producer, a writer, a director and a teacher… Is there anything left for you to conquer in the entertainment industry?
There’s always more to learn. I guess it would be cool to write a play one day. I love the theater and I love going to plays, so that might be good for me. I’ve only acted in small theaters in Los Angeles, but I like acting on stage in front of live audiences, so that would also be great. Who knows what’s next? I’ll guess we’ll just have to wait and see…
Go Deeper Into the Spectacular Land of Oz
OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL
New To Blu-ray™ Combo Pack, Digital and On-Demand – June 11, 2013
BURBANK, Calif. May 1, 2013 — Disney’s “Oz The Great and Powerful” will once again provide audiences with a magical entertainment experience when it debuts for in-home release on Blu-ray™ Combo Pack, DVD, Digital and On-Demand, June 11, 2013.
A must-own for any home entertainment collection, the Blu-ray Combo Pack (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy) of “Oz The Great and Powerful” brings the epic adventure to life with its vibrantly colorful picture and sound, and boasts a sensational variety of never-before-seen bonus materials including: “The Magic of ‘Oz The Great and Powerful’ Second Screen Feature” that provides viewers with an immersive opportunity to journey into the fantastical lands of Oz; James Franco’s personal story of his journey to the land of Oz that is produced and directed by the Oscar® nominated star himself; Golden Globe® nominee Mila Kunis’ makeup metamorphosis which is hosted by Academy Award®-winning makeup artist Howard Berger; A back-stage journey through each of the visual effects process that brought China Girl to life including an interview with Joey King; and much more. Additionally, all Blu-ray and DVD products include a digital copy of the film allowing consumers to watch “Oz The Great and Powerful” at home, in their car, and/or anywhere they go.
The film is directed by Sam Raimi who helmed the record-crushing “Spider-Man” trilogy, and produced by Joe Roth who fashioned Disney’s billion dollar-plus earning “Alice in Wonderland.” “Oz The Great and Powerful” boasts a stellar cast that includes Academy Award nominee James Franco (“127 Hours”) as Oscar Diggs, the predestined wizard; Golden Globe nominee Mila Kunis (“Black Swan”) as the tormented young witch Theodora; Academy Award winner Rachel Weisz (“The Constant Gardener”) as Theodora’s older sister, Evanora, the witch who rules over the Emerald City; and three-time Oscar-nominated actress Michelle Williams (“Brokeback Mountain,” “Blue Valentine,” “My Week with Marilyn”) as Glinda, the Good Witch.
- The Magic of “Oz The Great and Powerful” (Second Screen Experience) – An immersive Second Screen experience that details all things Oz. From an interactive map full of secrets and surprises, to an inside look at the spectacular world of Oz. All fans need to do is download the special “The Magic of Oz The Great and Powerful: Second Screen” App (which is free and currently available for immediate download at the iTunes Store for iPads) which provides fans with infinite opportunities to remain connected to their favorite film, its cast of characters and to dive deeper into the magical world of Oz. This App provides exclusive access to invigorating and exclusive content including:
- The Enchanting Characters and Creatures of Oz – From Munchkins and Tinkers to good witches, bad witches, and flying baboons, this piece follows each character and creature of the Land of Oz from inspiration to final outcome.
- The Sounds of Magical Oz – What adds fragility to the sounds of China Girl’s footsteps; ferocity to the tornado; or weight to the flutter of Finley’s flapping wings?
- Sleight of Hand: Zach Braff Puppet Theater – Actor, and voice of Finley, Zach Braff introduces viewers to the Finley mockup.
- Mariah Carey Music Video
- My Journey in Oz by James Franco – A personal story produced and directed by James Franco.
- Mr. Elfman’s Musical Concoctions – An interview with composer Danny Elfman unveils his inspiration in scoring “Oz The Great And Powerful.”
- China Girl and the Suspension of Disbelief – This feature uncloaks the several forms of movie magic employed to bring China Girl to life, from the initial artwork and character design, to the on-set puppeteering during filmmaking, and finally, through each stage of the visual-effects process; and includes an interview with Joey King, the voice of China Girl.
- Before Your Very Eyes: From Kansas to Oz – Production designer Robert Stromberg takes viewers through the set design of the Land of Oz, from sketching his original ideas on a napkin, through to the final set pieces and the accompanying visual effects.
- Mila’s Metamorphosis – Lead makeup artist Howard Berger expands on one of the oldest, most tried-and-true forms of movie magic: makeup design and effects.
- Walt Disney and the Road to Oz – It is well known that Walt Disney had a fascination with the Land of Oz since he was a child. See how that fascination grew into inspiration as he began planning for his own adaptation of the stories in the classic Baum books.
- Walt Disney and the Road to Oz
To learn more and stay connected with the film, please…
- “Like” us on Facebook: facebook.com/OzTheGreatAndPowerful
- Follow us on Twitter: twitter.com/DisneyOzMovie @DisneyOzMovie
- Follow us on Pintrest: pinterest.com/disneystudios/oz-the-great-and-powerful
- Website and Mobile Site: http://www.disney.com/TheWizard
Street Date: June 11, 2013 (Direct Prebook: 4/16; Distributor Prebook: 4/30)
Suggested Retail Pricing: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy = $44.99 US/$47.99 Canada
Blu-ray + Digital Copy = $39.99 U.S./$42.99 Canada
DVD + Digital Copy = $29.99 US/$32.99 Canada
Blu-ray 3D + Digital Copy = $44.99 U.S./$47.99 Canada
HD, SD or 3D Digital & On-Demand = please check with your television provider or favorite digital retailer for pricing
Feature Run Time: 130 Minutes
Ratings: US: PG/Canada PG
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 (beginning of feature plays in 1.33:1)
Audio: 7.1 DTS-HDMA, 5.1 & 2.0 Dolby Digital
Languages: English, Spanish, French
Subtitles: English SDH, French and Spanish
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 a great wizard but into a better man as well.
“Temple Run” Oz Game:
In celebration of the in-home release, Temple Run: Oz will introduce China Girl as an all-new character to the exhilarating running experience (which launched during the theatrical release). The tiny China Girl might be small in size but she is packed with speed and a big attitude. Players will be able to run through all three stunning environments including the latest release Winkie Country and be able to use the “Head Start” feature to fast travel to any location. To learn more, please visit iTunes at http://bit.ly/WgSWAk or Google Play at http://bit.ly/15tVpYH.
About The Walt Disney Studios:
For more than 85 years, The Walt Disney Studios has been the foundation on which The Walt Disney Company was built. Today, the Studio brings quality movies, music and stage plays to consumers throughout the world. Feature films are released under the following banners: Disney, including Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar Animation Studios; Disneynature; Marvel Studios; and Touchstone Pictures, the banner under which live-action films from DreamWorks Studios are distributed. The Disney Music Group encompasses the Walt Disney Records and Hollywood Records labels, as well as Disney Music Publishing. The Disney Theatrical Group produces and licenses live events, including Disney on Broadway, Disney On Ice and Disney Live!.