Oz the Great and Powerful Giveaway & Interviews with James Franco and Zach Braff
Posted June 11, 2013 10:44 PM by Webmaster
Blu-ray.com and Walt Disney Home Entertainment are offering two members an opportunity to win a Blu-ray/DVD/DC combo pack copy of Oz the Great and Powerful, which arrives on Blu-ray and BD 3D today.
To enter, simply add a comment to this news post with your top three Sam Raimi movies of all time. (There are no right or wrong answers.)
The contest is open to all Blu-ray.com members (membership is completely free, click here to join) and will close on Sunday, June 16th at approximately 11:59pm EST, at which time three randomly selected winners will be contacted via Blu-ray.com PM. Winners will be asked to provide full name and a valid mailing address via PM, but personal information will not be shared or retained in any way. Maintaining our membership's privacy is of the utmost importance. Prizes that are not claimed within three days will be awarded to other entrants.
In the meantime, enjoy a pair of interviews with Oz the Great and Powerful actors James Franco and Zach Braff, both of which can be found after the film's theatrical trailer below:
Interview with James Franco
Is it true that you trained with acclaimed Vegas magician Lance Burton when preparing to play Oscar Diggs?
James Franco: 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 tricks did you learn?
JF: 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.
Could you pull off a kids' birthday party?
JF: 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)
Have you become a magic enthusiast?
JF: I wouldn't say I'm 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 attracted you to the story of Oz the Great and Powerful?
JF: 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 was it like working with Sam Raimi on a project of this scope and scale?
JF: 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 most enjoy about working with the witches of Oz: Theodora, played by Mila Kunis; Evanora, played by Rachel Weisz, and Glinda, played by Michelle Williams?
JF: 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, and 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. 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. And 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 quite 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? Or do you prefer the ultra-realistic work of movies like 127 Hours?
JF: 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, a teacher... is there anything left for you to conquer in the entertainment industry?
JF: 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!
Interview with Zach Braff
What brought you to Oz The Great And Powerful?
Zach Braff: In the very beginning, Sam Raimi asked me to visit his office to discuss the project. We talked for a while and I guess I made him laugh, which helped. He showed me an animatic sequence where a couple of the movie's characters run along a cliff. In the scene, they all jump off and Oscar screams: "What are you doing? Why are you jumping off the cliff?" At that stage, there was no line for the flying monkey, so I added a joke and Sam started dying with laughter. I thought to myself, "Great. I think I've got the part."
You've been involved with the production of home video releases for several films. Are you excited about the Blu-ray release of Oz the Great and Powerful?
ZB: I love Blu-rays, especially on extremely visual movies like this. You can really notice the difference with the quality when you play a Blu-ray on your television at home. Blu-rays are great. I think the Blu-ray release of Oz is perfect for a movie like this because there are so many extras. They had video crews on the set of the movie every other day recording material for the Blu-ray. Some movies don't lend themselves to anything more interesting than a commentary track, but this is going to have so much more. Plus, there's so much state-of-the-art technology in this movie that movie buffs and people that love the world of Oz will really enjoy seeing it in such high definition.
You were involved with some of the extras on the Oz Blu-ray, correct?
ZB: There's a Second Screen bonus extra called "Zach Braff Puppet Theater" where we show how we created the movie's flying monkey, Finley. The video shows how we brought Finley to life and the different ways that we captured the monkey's performance.
Did you use motion capture technology?
ZB: We didn't use motion capture because Sam wanted it to be more inspired by the way they used to do these things; with animators using real footage as opposed to interpreting what the dots of motion capture tell the computer. Most of the work involved me acting out the scenes in front of cameras. The animators animated everything using the video footage.
Did you record the video footage on the movie set or in an empty room?
ZB: We recorded the footage in lots of different ways, but the greatest percentage involved me on the set. Sometimes I'd wear a blue screen suit, but I'd usually just act out the scenes with video cameras all around me. It was great because I was able to interact with the other actors on set.
Were you always on set?
ZB: I spent some of the time in a video booth away from the set. When Finley isn't stagnant in a scene, it's hard for me to jump around, climb trees and fly like the character does. During those moments, I would go to a video booth but James Franco could see me because there'd be a small monitor – about the size of an iPad – on the end of a stick on set. James also had a tiny earpiece in his ear, so he was able to look at me, hear me and talk to me. That's how we worked when Finley was flying around or when he climbs trees. And you'll be able to see exactly how we did it on the "Puppet Theater" Blu-ray Second Screen extra.
Did you always follow the script on set?
ZB: Sam wanted us to improvise and riff. He wanted to see the relationship between Finley and Oscar develop, so he didn't want us to stick to the script. I think that's one of the reasons he hired me because he wanted someone that could pitch jokes and riff around. There are lots of improvised moments in the finished movie. One of them is the whole 'sneezing the plan away' line. And Finley's mooing; that's another. I thought it would be really funny if he mooed!
What did you think when you saw a finished version of Finley for the first time?
ZB: I couldn't believe it. I saw pieces of Finley in EDR [enhanced data rate] but it wasn't until the premiere that I saw him fully realized in 3D. I was so excited. He's so much cooler than I could have imagined.
Can you see your facial expressions in Finley?
ZB: Some people say they can see my face in Finley's, but I don't really see it. If anything, I can see a little in his eyes – but that's about it. I tried to do a lot with my eyes during the film shoot because I thought that would be the most human thing to come through a monkey's face.
What do you think of his virtual costuming?
ZB: Everyone keeps asking me about Finley's outfit. I love it. Why is he in a bellhop uniform? Well, there used to be a line in the movie that explained how he was a valet for a wealthy munchkin. The munchkin's mansion got destroyed, so Finley had no one to serve and that's how he ended up in the forest. It's a little like Downton Abbey. He's a Downton Abbey monkey!
Do you have fond memories of the original Wizard Of Oz?
ZB: The thing I remember the most about The Wizard Of Oz is the physical comedy. I was really taken with physical comedy as a kid and I remember being taken with the way the characters of The Wizard Of Oz moved around. You've got the Lion, the Tin Man and the Scarecrow, and I loved their body movements and the way they danced. Even as a young kid, I remember thinking that it was so funny. To be honest, I think it's one of the reasons why I got into physical comedy later in life. It was definitely an inspiration.
Did you always want to be an actor?
ZB: Always. Ever since I was a little kid. I have always loved the theater and performing. It's always been my dream to do this.
What advice would you give to younger fans of Oz the Great and Powerful who want to follow in your footsteps?
ZB: My advice is simple: do it! Do it in school. Do it at home. Or join a community theater. Get involved, but make sure you like it because it's a challenging career path if you're going to dedicate your life to it. I always struggled to make friends. Believe it or not, I'm a very shy person – but I realized that when I made people laugh at school, they wanted to talk to me. I think that's how I developed my sense of humor. I wasn't into sports and stuff like that, so I started to become the class clown. I started to be goofy and then, all of a sudden, I made friends.