Oz the Great and Powerful- Zach Braff Interview #DisneyOzEvent #DisneyOz

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I’ve saved my favorite interview for last.  I loved meeting Rachel Weisz, Mila Kunis, Michelle Williams, Sam Raimi, Joey King, and James Franco, but I personally enjoy someone who can make me laugh.  I loved the show Scubs, especially the funny dynamic between Zach Braff and Donald Faison.  Certainly Zach was funny on TV and in the movies, but what would he be like in “real life”.  I was delighted to find that Zach is naturally charismatic and hilarious.

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photo courtesy of http://www.insideoutmotherhood.com/

Zach first entered the room with a  big smile and announced, “Hey, mommy bloggers”.  Clearly, this interview was going to be fun.  He then admitted he is also a fan of Twitter and immediately apologized for “sometimes saying inappropriate things”, as if we were his own mother.    Yeah, I was immediately smitten.  Is there anything better than a good sense of humor?

Question– During the production you’re in this little tiny black booth?

ZACH BRAFF : Yeah, that’s one of the ways we did it.  Sometimes by the end we had three pretty solid ways that we did it.  Sometimes I was just scrunched down in this blue screen onesie which is really adorable and for six months no matter how many times I put it on, everyone pointed and laughed at me. So I sat on my butt,  kinda hunched over, I was thirty-six inches tall.   Sam wanted wanted to capture everything.  Gestures and my facial expressions,  we’d do it that way.  Other times there was a puppet that I would kind of operate and when he needed to be like flying and stuff.  And then there’s times when I couldn’t be there at all, and I’d be in this booth with cameras all around me.  And then James would be looking at a monitor that was kind of on a pole.  And then he’d get the tiny ear piece in his ear, and that’s how we could do it. Because Sam’s biggest thing was, I don’t want you in a sound booth at the end of the shoot.  I want you there, I want you and James improving, I want it to be two buddies on a road trip. I think that made such a difference.  Because it wasn’t just this character that got phoned in at the end, it really was an important relationship.

sam raimi with cast at preimiere disney pic

Question- What was one of your most memorable moments during filming?

ZACH BRAFF : I love the moment when we find China Girl and James is putting her back together.  It is genuinely was so moving.  Even on set, it was so moving.  And we were on all these giant sets and for the first time we were literally sitting and it was so surreal.  We were literally sitting in a tea kettle and it was James and Joey King and the puppeteer.  They had this beautiful marionette puppet and the moment was just so sweet and beautiful.  I actually had my eyes welled and that’s when I discovered that I wanted the monkey to almost be like an easy crier. My eyes really genuinely welled and I thought let’s have him covertly swipe the tear as he doesn’t want Oz to see that he’s crying.  And then they kept it in the movie, it was really sweet.

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Question What was the most challenging part? 

ZACH BRAFF :  I was nervous the whole time.  I’m here for so long and working so hard.  I wondered- are they going to capture all that I’m doing.  When all that you’re doing is really reference for an animator, you’re nervous.  Are they going to capture the subtleties in this?  I don’t want to put my name on this if it’s not going to capture all the little things I’m trying to do.

Along the way, I’ve only seen rough incarnations of it, because it takes so long to get the images the way you guys saw it in the movie.  And then at the premier I finally saw, and for the first time, fully photo-real and realized, and it was so exciting for me.  The little subtle face ticks, and things I never would have thought they would have they picked up in the eyes. They did.  And that made me really happy, that they got it all.

Question- You were the comedy, and that’s what kids really respond to, what’s your feeling about doing this for kids?

ZACH BRAFF :  Well I did do Chicken Little. I have nieces and nephews, I don’t have any of my own yet, but I love kids.  I’ve already scored that stuffed animal (Finley) and it’s really cute.   I have a twelve-year-old nephew I swear you guys will love this story as moms.  I have a twelve-year-old nephew and his sister couldn’t come out from Florida for the premier.  But he did.  And I said I want you to give your sister, because she didn’t get to come out- his sister is eight.  And he says, yeah-yeah-yeah I’ll give it to her, and he’s sleeping on my couch. I walk in to come here this morning, and he’s totally spooning it and I’m like, there’s no way Ella is getting that stuffed animal.  So I told my publicist, I need like a box of those things. One is not going to do.

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Question- What was it like going from Scrubs to playing Finley?

ZACH BRAFF : Well it helped that I had a wide range of physical comedy from Scrubs, and also the improvisational stuff.  A lot of the stuff people loved, came out of us improving on Scrubs.  And on this movie it was so big, I was thought we are not going to have time for any of that.  But Sam really wanted that, he wanted James and I to riff.  I want you to find those new jokes and I was really glad that Scrubs was a kind of great training ground, to be able to do this.  

Question- How do you prepare for a role like a monkey?

ZACH BRAFF : I did actually go to the Detroit Zoo.  And I stumbled across two monkeys,  let’s just say in intimate embrace.  None of that proved useful. Maybe for the sequel? I don’t know if the monkey gets a girlfriend or not.  It worked creating a creature from scratch.  He looks like a monkey, but he flies and he talks like a human.  So it really wasn’t too much monkey research to be done.

Question-  How do you feel about flying monkey trending on Twitter? (We used the hashtag #flyingmonkey during our interview with Zach- within ten minutes we had it trending on Twitter) 

ZACH BRAFF : Is it?  No, it’s not.  Because of you guys? You guys have such scary power.  Wow, you guys can band together for good.  That’s really cool.  That’s a lot of power.  I’m going to get on there and re-tweet it.

And after our interview he kept true to his word and did re-tweet ME!!  How awesome is that?!

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Question- What was the audition process?

ZACH BRAFF : Sam asked me to come in, but he didn’t even want me to audition.  He just kinda wanted to talk.  He had this pre-visualization stuff and that sequence where we’re running off the cliff and right before we go into the bubbles, where I jump off.  And the monkey didn’t have any lines.  And he said, so here’s an example.  We have this scene, but we want someone who can kinda come to the set and figure out who this guy is with me and James.  And he showed me the animation and I was watching it, and I saw him jump off and Oz says, what are you doing, you’re jumping off?  And I just went, I have wings.  And Sam just started dying laughing and I was like, I guess that’s a good sign. And to me- and so that’s how it started.  I found out when I got home I got the gig, ’cause I made the director laugh.

And that’s what he wanted, he wanted someone that could sit there and go, oh what if I said this.  And I said, Sam, I promise you this, I’m going to drive you crazy, I’m going to pitch a thousand ideas, but just take what you like and leave the rest.  No hard feelings.  And there’d be plenty of times where we’d be on set and I’d be like, oh what if this da-da-da-da-da-da all excited and he’d be like, that’s hysterical, but it’s not called The Monkey.  Maybe when we make the movie, The Monkey, we can do that elaborate scene you just pitched.  So maybe, who knows, the sequel.

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Question- What was it like to film in Detroit? 

ZACH BRAFF :  I had fun, we stayed in Royal Oak, which was a really cool town, and you cannot but feel for Detroit.  We all know from the news that they’re struggling and I felt kind of proud to be a part of this project that was bringing a lot of jobs to town.  And I hope the city is proud of the movie, ’cause it was entirely made there.  

Question– How was making Garden State compared to making this film?

ZACH BRAFF : The budget of Garden State was the chewing gum budget of this movie.  I said, imagine going from a kayak to a cruise ship, although we shouldn’t reference cruise ships today. (this was when that cruise ship was stuck in the Caribbean without a motor)  Most of my work has been smaller films and the TV show.  So for me this was thrilling just to even be on set, I love movies so much, and just to be there in what I think is a pretty historic experience.  Just to be on set was a dream.

Question– How would you like to take a quick group photo?

ZACH BRAFF : I would love to.  It’ll be trending on Twitter.  God, I wish all the other interviews were this fun, normally I sit in a boring room.  Come around, moms, because I’m tall.

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

Comments

  1. sharon gullikson says

    He’s perfect to play a monkey. I like that even though he doesn’t have kids, he really likes them.

  2. Sacha Schroeder says

    He played this part so well! Love him! Great interview.

  3. Diane Riedel says

    Delightful interview, I really enjoyed reading it! Thank you for sharing! I’m going to see this movie! 😉

  4. Jasanna Czellar says

    It sounds like a great interview! I didn’t know who he was before. 🙂

  5. natalie nichols says

    Love it. He is so great!

  6. Christy Anderson says

    I didn’t know he did the voice of the monkey! Great interview!

  7. What a great interview! I can’t wait to see the movie!

  8. I didn’t know he was the MONKEY! Looking forward to seeing this

  9. That must have been an amazing interview to participate in – Mr. Finley, himself! He seems like a very personable guy 🙂

  10. This was a great movie. I had no idea he was the monkey but the monkey was adorable.

  11. Nikki Strong says

    Oh! Now I REALLY want to take my kids to see this movie!

  12. jamie braun says

    he is so hilarious! hes always been one of my faves

  13. Amy Orvin says

    I really think this will be a great movie!

  14. Cheryl Chervitz says

    Great interview, I really hope to see the movie soon.

  15. Darlene Ysaguirre says

    I didnt know he did chicken little such a cute and funny movie, i cant wait to see OZ

  16. kyle roysdon says

    nice interview. 🙂

  17. kathy pease says

    this looks really good id love to see it with the family

  18. christina moore says

    What a great interview! I can’t wait to see the movie!

  19. Amber Mearns says

    Flying Monkey!!!! Love the Croods! Nice interview!

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