Sam Raimi, Director – Oz The Great and Powerful
Given the opportunity to interview Sam Raimi, the Director of so many amazing movies, was an honor. If you aren’t sure of what he has directed, think of Spiderman, Spiderman 2 and Spiderman 3, along with many others….but those are my favorites. He is a very talented Director and it was a pleasure getting to know him better during our interview.
Being that this is a prequel to the Wizard of Oz we were curious as to what it felt like having the weight of such a classic on his shoulders. It was interesting to hear that he actually hadn’t wanted to touch it at first. He didn’t want to ruin a classic, and wouldn’t even read the script! After he was told it was a writing sample, he fell in love with the story and characters.
“That’s why I gotta make this movie ‘cause I feel uplifted by the end of this thing.”
When a script makes you fall in love, that’s when you know you have to be a part of it. Raimi goes on to explain that he loved the character Oz.
“I love watching the main character learn how to become, you know, this selfish guy found a little bit of goodness in his heart and learned how to become this selfless individual. And that — and that could be really uplifting for the audience.”
Being that it was a room full of mommies, of course we had to ask questions about children, what he thinks might be too scary and how he managed that. I love that he let us know he did think about how scary the original movie was, and tried to stay along those same lines with this one. He didn’t want parents regretting they took their kids, but the kids really enjoy watching it.
““If there’s no violence and good wins out. And, um, then I think we should have a good scary witch and a good, uh, frightening moment with the baboon.”
When you watch the movie (which you will be able to March 8, 2013!) you will see James Franco as the main character, Oz. When we asked Raimi if Franco had always been his first pick, we found out that he was actually the third choice. He was surprised to hear that Franco was interested in the part and thought,
“I never considered James. But he has the qualities”
Raimi went on to explain that when he thought back to his long relationship with Franco, he realized that Franco had a lot of the same qualities as the Oz character. He went on to explain that he has seen Franco grow as a person as an actor, much as Oz grows throughout the movie. One thing that was really interesting was that Raimi explained he likes to find the essence of his characters in his actors.
“Sometimes a great actor comes in but they’re not the essence of the character. But James had all the qualities. And I’d seen a little bit of human growth within him in real life. So I thought he could portray this type of growth.”
Raimi explained that even in casting the other characters, he wanted to ensure they were right for the part. Although it was an “interview” he wanted to see what they were really like and what they had in their soul. He wanted the person that played Glinda to really have a good heart and so on.
Although he had a hard time telling us who is favorite character was, his first response was Evanora, which I thought was interesting.
“Rachel Weisz’s character because she’s so nasty. And she doesn’t try and hide it. I mean she, yes, she puts on illusions but she really digs who she is. “
Nearly all of what you see on screen was actually there. It isn’t added in later. Raimi wanted his characters to really feel like they were in Oz. They built the Emerald City and Chinatown and all of the other sets.
“Because it’s such a fantastical adventure, I really needed to ground it more than a regular drama with real human performances. We had to explain the emotions that we understand and can connect to.”
We ended our interview by letting Raimi know how much we enjoyed the movie and he was asked if there would be a sequel. His response was exactly what I’d expect….
“It would have to be critically acclaimed and the audience would have to want it. So that’s still way down the line. It’s all unknown right now whether that would happen for the Disney people to make that decision. “
Remember, Oz The Great and Powerful will be in theaters beginning March 8, 2013!
Disclosure: I was provided a trip to the World Premiere of Oz The Great and Powerful so I would be able to share my thoughts and experiences. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.