Oz The Great and Powerful- James Franco Interview #DisneyOzEvent

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In our whirlwind of Oz interviews, James Franco was last on our list.  We were eager to meet with the star of the movie.  Yes, the girls (Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz, and Michelle Williams) are stars in their own right, but it is clearly Franco that dominates the film, the title is Oz The Great and Powerful.

Several of my fellow bloggers and I had previously commented that based on our perception of Franco, he seemed like a natural fit to play Oz.  I was curious to see if my perceptions of Franco proved true. Our meeting was brief, but it didn’t seem hard to find the Oscar Diggs inside James Franco.

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Here is the scoop!

Upon entering the room.

Franco– I wanna see pictures of everyone’s kids and get to know each other.  We’ll get all the pictures and then we’ll be done!  (smiling)

Question- There were tons of dolls.  Have you seen them?

Franco- I have not seen that, no.  Very odd, huh?

Question- Does that freak you out?

Franco– I’ve had dolls made before. I did the Spider-man films and so it’s nothing new to me.

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Question- What was your most memorable moment in filming the movie?

Franco- 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 enjoyable all the way through. 

Question- What was your favorite part with the magic, and can you do it in real life now?

Franco- I can.  I had to train.  I trained with  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 fun to learn anyway.

Question- Were you a fan of The Wizard of Oz growing up?

Franco- I was.  When I was a boy,  the 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.  I just sped through them.   I remember there was a local book store called The Printer’s Ink in Palo Alto, it’s gone now, unfortunately.  It was an independent book store and they had all the Oz books there, and I remember getting excited seeing all of them and going through each one.  So that was my Harry Potter, I guess.  

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Question- How was this role different for you compared to Spider-man?

Franco- In the Spider-man 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 Spider-man films, he identified with Peter Parker.  And even though he and I got along 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.

So now in this film, I’m the lead and I think Oz is a stand-in for certain sides of Sam.  Sam has has a nerdy side and a childlike side, but he also can be a little bit of a trickster.  And in addition to that, Oz in an entertainer.  He creates illusions to entertain people, and that’s exactly what Sam does.

So I’m finally playing the character that he identifies with and so I get all of his love.  So it’s great.

Question- Who is your favorite witch to work with?

Franco- That’s a hard question.  You’re gonna get me in trouble, but they’re all the best, 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 was enjoyable, but a very different experience and I was glad to have all of them.

Question- Did Sam give you license to add personality yourself?

Franco- Sam is a very collaborative director.  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.

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.  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 I 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 is as it develops through the whole process.  I’m sure some of me made it into the character that wasn’t originally on the page.

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Question- How was it working with Finley and China Girl?

Franco– 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 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.  But 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 Rise of the Planet of the Apes where I got to work with Andy Serkis, who played Gollum and then played Caesar in my film, and he’s the master of this performance capture kind of film-making.

And so you go through a series of different kinds of takes.  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.

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Question- Do you ever sleep.  How do you manage all that you do?

Franco– I do sleep.  I do a lot of things, but I’m in the fortunate position that my job is what I love.  And so I don’t need a relief from it like, someone who doesn’t like their job.  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.  But I sleep about six hours a night.

OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL lands in theaters on March 8th!

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My trip to the #DisneyOzEvent was funded entirely by Disney, however all opinions are my own.

Comments

  1. He sounds very persobnable and like he enjoys what he does a great deal! Interesting interview I am looking forward to seeng this movie.

  2. Sue Hull says

    He’s a cutie pie and I can’t wait to see him in the movie. Great interview! 🙂

  3. Sandy VanHoey says

    That took quite awhile to do, 6 months and I love that he learned magic along the way

  4. He seems very nice. He’s got a nice smile, i thought he was great in the movie “Date Night”

    sibabe64 at ptd dot net

  5. I love James Franco. He cracks me up about the dolls being no big deal. I can’t wait to see this film.

  6. Karen Glatt says

    I think James Franco is a great actor and Sam Reimi picked the best actor for the role of Oz. I am so excited to see him in this movie, and he is such a nice guy!

  7. D SCHMIDT says

    Great interview, I had no idea until reading it that the movie took 6 months to shoot.

  8. I cannot wait to see how this movie plays out with the witches.

  9. What an awesome opportunity to be part of a press junket. And to be able to interview such neat people. I can’t wait to see the film and see how Franco is as a magician. Fun stuff.

  10. Megan Parsons says

    I’m getting really excited about this movie!

  11. sharon gullikson says

    I am looking forward to seeing this movie. I don’t know if Franco will be good in the role or not. He is a little odd, so maybe…

  12. Margaret Smith says

    Looking forward to seeing this.

  13. saminder gumer says

    i love james franco. i wish i could have interviewed him. he seems like he has a lot to talk about and he actually was here in my home town going to one of his phd programs.

  14. Wow Awesome that you guys got to met celebs. I can recognize a few of those bloggers

  15. Joni Mason says

    Very interesting interview! I found it meat that he actually did some magic tricks! James Franco sounds like he’s one of the few actors who seems like a “regular” guy.
    Thanks for sharing!

  16. Diane Sallans says

    this event must have been such fun!

  17. Sue Hull says

    I like all the pictures of the movie.They’re so bright and colorful. You all looked like you had so much fun! 🙂

  18. Not every day that you get to chat with an A list actor, and one that has a personal side. Can’t wait to see this movie, I think my kids will like it!

  19. What a fantastic interview, it must have been an incredible day for you.

  20. Ellen Anderson says

    He is adorable and I can’t wait to see him! It’s cool that he can still do the magic tricks from the movie!

  21. They filmed Oz here in Michigan, at the Raleigh Studios! James lived in Royal Oak (suburb of Detroit) during that time.

    I didn’t know he trained with Lance Burton – very cool. I saw his show in Vegas a while back.

  22. Nikki Strong says

    Looking forward to seeing this movie! Thanks for sharing!

  23. He is so funny and it looks like a really good movie.

  24. I cant wait to see this movie. Great interview and great actor.

  25. Jessica Snow says

    I can’t wait to see this movie! You’re so lucky you got to interview him. He seems so down to earth. =)

  26. natalie nichols says

    He is such a good actor. How awesome that you were able to do an interview with him!

  27. I like this fresh taste on this movie!

  28. jamie braun says

    LOVE james franco! you got to meet so many cool people!

  29. looks like an interesting take on the story

  30. Christy Anderson says

    OMG! I’d so want to meet him! He’s so cute!

  31. april yedinak says

    Love, love, love him! I can not wait to see this movie!

  32. Julie Wood says

    I did not see the Oz the Great and Powerful yet, but I will be going to see it at the theater! What an exciting movie, and I like the actors in this movie!

  33. That is so awesome that James Franco studied with Lance Burton to learn magic. He is a great actor!!! 🙂

  34. Awesome. Seems like you had a great time.

  35. That’s so great that you were able to interview him!

  36. Joyce Raymond says

    Maybe I should not say this, but I think Franco is sexy 🙂

  37. What a great experience for you. I look forward to seeing the movie now!

  38. looks like an interesting movie – how fun to meet and interview James Franco

  39. Sacha Schroeder says

    He is amazing!

  40. Blessed Assurance says

    Can’t wait to see this.

  41. This looks quite interesting and I wonder if it is on Blockbuster yet….

  42. Im gonna see this one for sure!

  43. I want to see this movie on the BIG screen to get the best effects. Good interview.

  44. Franco is actually a really good actor and it has some great actresses in it too. It also looks visually stunning. I really want to see it.

  45. susan glazer says

    i can’t wait to see this movie although i feel the overall look of the film is not children oriented.

  46. Heather Turner says

    I was so excited when this movie was advertised. I have heard mixed reviews about it though. A lot of critics say that the story line isn’t strong enough and it tends to get boring. I don’t usually listen to critics, but it has made me a little hesitant to see it.

  47. thischickwins says

    sometimes he seems a little “off” to me, but he was very nice in this interview, right from the start. i know i’ll see this movie.

  48. This looks like such a fun movie. I can’t wait to watch it!

  49. Susan Smith says

    We are looking forward to seeing this movie!

  50. Looking forward to seeing this!!

  51. Alissabeth says

    I loved Wizard of Oz when I was a kid, so I can’t wait to see this take on it.

  52. Thanks for sharing!

  53. Holly Thomas says

    Looking forward to seeing this!!

  54. Blessie Nelson says

    This must have such a wonderful opportunity to meet a celeb in real life and learn their experiences.

  55. I love James Franco and I am jealous of your life.

  56. Maria Iemma says

    Great interview – You are so lucky to get to speak with James Franco, he is a great actor

  57. mary gardner says

    love James Franco! what a fun opportunity you all had!

  58. I really want to see this movie. Thanks for the interview.

  59. Thomas Murphy says

    I can’t wait to see this movie!

  60. Jennifer Speed says

    really want to see this movie and it doesn’t hurt that James Franco is in it either

Trackbacks

  1. […] Franco was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame today.   Check out my interview with James Franco while I was in L.A. for the premiere for the scoop on his role in the […]

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