The Wizard of Oz

March 12, 2013 | 6:00 a.m.

‘Oz the Great and Powerful’: Zach Braff on his ‘wacky’ friend Franco

One of the most memorable aspects of Sam Raimi’s “Oz the Great and Powerful” is the unlikely kinship that arises between James Franco’s cad con man turned hero Oscar Diggs and Finley, the tiny talking monkey given voice by actor Zach Braff. At an early Hero Complex screening of “Oz the Great and Powerful” at the AMC Century City 15 & Imax last week, Braff, famous for his work 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, described his on-set chemistry with Franco, whom he now considers a close friend. “James is a wacky guy, and I love wacky people,” Braff said during a Q&A that took place following the film. “There’s times I’ve done movies where you really can’t get along with the person […]
March 11, 2013 | 2:17 p.m.

‘Oz the Great and Powerful’: Zach Braff recalls on-set experience

“Oz the Great and Powerful” handily won the weekend box office with an impressive $80.3 million take in the U.S. and Canada, making it the biggest hit of the year so far. The film, Sam Raimi’s quasi-prequel to the 1939 Oscar-winning musical “The Wizard of Oz,” benefited from its broad appeal (not to mention higher 3-D ticket prices). For the actors starring in the lavish fantasy inspired by the books of L. Frank Baum, though, the emphasis was on performance, not eventual box-office returns. Attempting to find the right approach to Finley, the sweet-natured talking monkey who becomes a boon companion to James Franco’s magician con man in the magical realm, proved an interesting assignment for Zach Braff, the actor explained last week at an early Hero Complex screening of “Oz the Great and Powerful” at the AMC Century City […]
March 10, 2013 | 11:40 a.m.

‘Oz’ makeup: Howard Berger on witches, Winkies and Bruce Campbell

Howard Berger is the Oscar-winning makeup artist who took home his golden statuette for “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” (a prize he shared with longtime collaborator Tami Lane, who went on to oversee the makeup for Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”). His latest professional challenge again transported him to another fanciful land — for Sam Raimi’s lavish fantasy “Oz the Great and Powerful,” he designed makeups for Munchkins, Wicked Witches and one strangely familiar Winkie. Berger spoke to Hero Complex prior to the film’s release about the intricacies of redesigning one of cinema’s most iconic villains — though with spoilers in mind, he declined to name the actress who ultimately becomes the movie’s Wicked Witch — and what it was like to re-team with his old friend Raimi. (The pair first worked […]
March 10, 2013 | 8:00 a.m.

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

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 […]
March 06, 2013 | 5:10 p.m.

‘Oz the Great and Powerful’: Sam Raimi on 3-D fantasy, James Franco

With three “Spider-Man” films on his resume, Sam Raimi has overseen some pretty large projects. But the director said that none of them quite prepared him for “Oz the Great and Powerful.” “Spider-Man lives in a world that already exists, and we were just creating the CG to put into it,” Raimi told Hero Complex in a recent interview. “With ‘Oz’ we had to create a world from scratch. No blade of grass or flower existed before. It was all generated by artists and props people and botanists.” Opening Friday, “Oz the Great and Powerful” represents the first directorial effort from Raimi since his 2009 horror movie “Drag Me to Hell,” and stands as his grandest filmmaking challenge to date, simply from a technical standpoint if no other. In fashioning his take on the world conjured by L. Frank Baum, […]
March 04, 2013 | 2:31 p.m.

‘Oz the Great and Powerful’: Michelle Williams on Glinda inspiration

In both L. Frank Baum’s “Oz” novels and Victor Fleming’s 1939 movie “The Wizard of Oz,” Glinda the Good Witch is all-knowing, aware of everything that happens in Oz and, for the most part, what needs to be done about it. But there’s a different Glinda in “Oz the Great and Powerful,” the Sam Raimi-directed film that opens to high fan anticipation this Friday. As played by Michelle Williams, the wand-waving beacon of goodness can sometimes be just as helpless and in-the-dark as the people she’s there to lead. That was a conscious choice made by Raimi, and one that he and Williams discussed often on set, the actress told Hero Complex. “Glinda can’t be omniscient because then she has no struggle,” Williams said. “If she already knows everything about the situation, there’s nothing for her to discover.” Designed as […]
March 01, 2013 | 9:00 a.m.

‘Oz: The Great and Powerful’: Robert Stromberg on Raimi, Burton, Baum

Veteran visual effects professional and production designer Robert Stromberg has made a career out of conjuring new worlds for filmmakers including James Cameron, Tim Burton and Guillermo del Toro — it’s a skill that has landed him a turn of his own in the director’s chair in the upcoming “Maleficent,” starring Angelina Jolie as the sorceress. For “Oz: The Great and Powerful,” starring James Franco as a magician con man who finds himself accidentally whisked away to the magical land that exists beyond the rainbow, Stromberg collaborated with director Sam Raimi to craft a “dreamlike place that no one had seen before.” That entailed constructing around 30 sets on eight soundstages in Raimi’s home state of Michigan, where the film, set to open March 8, was shot. Hero Complex recently spoke with Stromberg about his approach to rendering the world of L. […]
Feb. 25, 2013 | 3:44 p.m.

‘Oz the Great and Powerful’: Come see it early, for free, in IMAX

Excited to see Sam Raimi’s lavish interpretation of the world of L. Frank Baum, “Oz the Great and Powerful”? Hero Complex will host a free screening of the film at the AMC Century City 15 & IMAX on Wednesday, March 6, two days before the movie opens in theaters. The event begins at 7:30 p.m. and will be followed by a Q&A with actor Zach Braff. The RSVP opens at 10 a.m. Tuesday; log on to to register to attend the screening. “Oz the Great and Powerful” is the first film from Raimi since his 2009 horror outing, “Drag Me to Hell.” Here, he’s working squarely in the family film tradition, creating a spectacle event movie that takes place prior to the events depicted in the Oscar-winning 1939 musical, “The Wizard of Oz.” In the screenplay, credited to Mitchell […]
Feb. 23, 2013 | 7:00 a.m.

113 years in the land of Oz: A look at the wizard’s world

“Oz:  The Great and Powerful” opens in theaters on March 8 — more than 100 years after the beloved children’s book “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” first introduced the world to the magical land of Oz and its “humbug” wizard. Directed by Sam Raimi, “Oz: The Great and Powerful”  tells the story of how the wizard of Oz, (James Franco) arrived in this marvelous land  in the first place. It is just the latest in a long series of movies, television shows, novels and even ballets to play off the world created by L. Frank Baum — a place where monkeys fly, trees talk and witches are both good and bad. Baum was actually the first person to adapt his popular children’s novel for a different medium. He published “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” in 1900 and by 1903, he […]
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