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March 10, 2013

‘Oz the Great and Powerful’: Zach Braff on talking monkeys, bodysuits

Posted in: Movies,Video

In “Oz the Great and Powerful,” James Franco might play the magician conman who’s called upon to bring peace to a faraway fantasy land, but it’s Zach Braff’s dutiful Finley who really has to do the heavy lifting — why else would a winged primate dress as a bellhop unless it was to carry a wizard’s bags?

Finley is just one of the fantastic creations that populates “Oz the Great and Powerful,” the weekend’s hit spectacle event movie that stands as a quasi-prequel to the Oscar-winning 1939 musical, “The Wizard of Oz.”

Bringing the character to life required Braff — the actor famous for his turn on television’s long-running sitcom “Scrubs” and his lauded turn behind the camera as director of the memorable indie “Garden State,” among other projects — to supply plenty of comedy.

But the role also required a complicated physical performance from the actor, Braff explained last week during a Q&A that followed an early Hero Complex screening of “Oz the Great and Powerful” at the AMC Century City 15 & Imax.

“This wasn’t done motion capture,” Braff said. “Sam Raimi, our genius director, sort of feels that when they put the dots on people’s faces, it’s sort of a computer interpreting a character’s performance. He likes a traditional animator interpreting the performance.”

That meant that for the majority of the film’s shoot, Braff was acting right alongside Franco — only he had to don a special bodysuit that could be digitally erased during post-production in order to allow the movie’s visual effects team to replace the actor with Finley.

“What I was doing for the most part was just wearing this blue screen onesie — super sexy pajamas — that they could literally paint out, and I’m crouching down on the ground acting that part out.”

Hear more about what Braff had to say about the challenges of the role in the video above, and look for more coverage from the event soon.

– Gina McIntyre

Follow us on Twitter: @LATHeroComplex

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