1. Let’s start by talking about the three witches. First, we have Rachel Weisz as Evanora.
She’s got to make you believe that she is the advisor to the king and a good person—somebody who’s just looking out for the welfare of the Emerald City and its inhabitants. Then later, you realize that wasn’t just her ethical zeal to do what’s right.
2. Also, there is Evanora’s sister Theodora, the Wicked Witch, played by Mila Kunis.
Theodora is a good witch when we first meet her.
3. What makes her wicked?
When Oscar (the Wizard) first gets to the Land of Oz, he meets her and is smitten by her beauty. She is innocent and has the goodwill of the people at heart, then is easily manipulated by James’ character.
4. So the Wizard makes her wicked?
She’s an innocent who fell in love, and her heart was broken. Her sister (Evanora) was all too willing to let that suffering end. And it awakened something that was already there but just fueled the fire of hatred. That rage drove her.
5. And then there is Glinda, the bubbly good witch, played by Michelle Williams.
Michelle has a real positive spirit and depth of soul. She’s a good person, and I needed that in the actress who was going to play Glinda.
6. Are there any other new characters we should know about?
In Glinda’s Kingdom, Quadling Country, we have the Tinkers. The Tinkers are led by the Master Tinker, played by Bill Cobbs. He does a wonderful job because he’s very worldly wise and soulful.
7. Who are the Winkies?
They are 10-foot-tall soldiers that the Wicked Witch employs to terrorize the citizens of Emerald City.
8. What do they do?
They’re her (the Wicked Witch’s) standing army, along with an air force of sorts, her winged baboons.
9. Who is Finley the monkey?
Finley is the Wizard’s conscience. When he gets to Oz, Finley reminds the Wizard in so many different ways about right and wrong.
10. Are there any other familiar Oz characters in the film?
There are the little people in the Land of Oz, who like to sing and dance, make pretty clothes, and are generally quite merry.
11. How do the little people add to this Oz story?
They make up the “underground” of the Emerald City, those people who believe in Glinda and the cause and are working secretly against the Wicked Witch.
12. Did you ever consider making this movie a musical?
I think the writers decided that we shouldn’t.
13. What was the most exciting part of bringing Oz to life on screen?
The world of Oz as L. Frank Baum created it has many different counties and lands and seas and impassable deserts.
14. So you had your work cut out for you?
The film had to be done on a tremendous scale. As large as the Spider-Man films were, that was a fantastic character in a city we knew, Manhattan. It wasn’t a created world.
15. How did you do that?
I surrounded myself with the best artists. Not just actors but artists—storyboard artists, visual effects artists, concept artists, landscape artists, and men and people that really knew how to create a world from the ground up, because I had never created a world before.
16. Everything was created new for the film?
Every single blade of grass and little blossom were thought out by an individual artist.
17. That must have been overwhelming.
Everything had to be animated and designed, so I’d never been part of anything so gigantic before. There are also giant creatures that look like dinosaurs. You only see them in the background.
18. Did they create any new kinds of animals?
There are little, strange little white-haired squirrels that are half-muskrat, half-squirrel, that inhabit this land.
19. Why did you choose James Franco to be the Wizard?
James is a very sensitive guy, and we really needed that for this character.
20. What is the Wizard’s source of power?
What I was trying to do and what I think the screenwriters were trying to do and the art department, prop department, was to set up Oz’s knowledge as a tinkerer.
21. What did he tinker with?
He has an awareness of Edison’s kinescope and early motion picture cameras, so it supports the idea that he could have created this technology with the help of the tinkerers once he got to the land of Oz.
22. What do you hope people will experience while watching the film?
I hope that they laugh and fall in love with the Wizard and be terrorized by the Wicked Witch and the winged baboons.
23. Ultimately, what is Oz The Great and Powerful about?
This is a story of how the Wizard came to be the Wizard; of how a small-time carnival magician—a faker, a charlatan—came to a fantastic world and was just the thing that they needed to save the day. It’s the tale of how an average man who was selfish became a great wizard who is selfless.
By D23: The Official Disney Fan Club’s Billy Stanek