Who is OZ? Meet James Franco #DisneyOzEvent

James Franco #DisneyOzEvent

Who is OZ? Meet James Franco #DisneyOzEvent


 James Franco #DisneyOzEvent

Now that I’ve shared a handful of interviews of some of the stars of OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL, the time has come to share the chat of OZ himself.  James Franco enters a room looking more like a college student than the movie star he’s become over the past 10 + years.  You can tell he is almost amused by us “mommy bloggers”.  And so begins the interview –

{Edits made to make content easier to follow}

I wanna see pictures of everyone’s kids and get to know each other.  We’ll get all the pictures and then we’ll be done.

Oh, yeah…he’s a charmer!

What was your most memorable moment in filming the movie?

It was all pretty enjoyable.  It was a very long shoot.  It was six months but I was working with my old friend Sam Raimi, and all the other actors and actresses were great to work with, so it was mainly just long, but it was enjoyable all the way through.

Oz doing his magic #disneyozevent
photo from www.ew.com

Did you know how to do magic?

I can.  Well, I had to train.  I trained with a Vegas magician, Lance Burton, and he showed me a lot of the secret tricks and I got pretty good at it.  There’s a scene in the beginning of the film where we see Oz doing his act in the traveling circus.  There were more tricks in the original act that I learned so I could make doves materialize out of nothing and pull rabbits out of hats.  But it didn’t make the cut. 

Were you a fan of the Wizard of Oz growing up?

I was.  When I was a boy, that was before Harry Potter was around and I read all of the L. Frank Baum Oz books on my own.  They were some of the first books I read for pleasure outside of school.  I was fourteen or fifteen and I just sped through them.  I remember, there was a local book store called The Printer’s Ink in Paulo Alto.  It’s gone now, unfortunately.  It was an independent book store and they had all the Oz books there, and I remember just like getting excited seeing all of them and going through each one.  So that was my Harry Potter, I guess.

How was this role different for you compared to Spiderman?

Well, so in the Spiderman films, I play Harry Osborne who is a supporting character.  The thing I’ve learned about Sam Raimi is that he identifies with the characters in a lot of his films.  And so when we did the Spiderman films, he identified it with Peter Parker.  And even though he and I got along very, very well, and became very good friends, I felt like I was not getting the full sunshine of his love because I was playing the character that was trying to kill his alter ego.

So now in this film, I’m the lead and I think Oz is a stand-in for certain sides of Sam.  Sam has a nerdy side and a childlike side, but also, he can be a little bit of a trickster, I guess.  In addition to that, Oz in an entertainer.  He creates illusions to entertain people, and that’s exactly what Sam does.

So I’m finally the character,(or) playing the character that he identifies with, so I get all of his love.  So it’s great, yeah.

China Doll and Oz #DisneyOzEvent
Did Sam give you license to add personality yourself?

Sam is a very collaborative director.  So everyone is welcome to bring things to the table.  With the character Oz, not only did we rehearse in advance two weeks of the film, we rehearsed throughout the film.  

I actually didn’t ever have a lunch to myself.  I was spending all my lunches going over the script and the scene with Sam and the other actors, and through that process, I think the character of Oz changed quite a bit.  In fact, I’d show some of my students in my English class at UCLA (present in the room during the interview), and we looked at an early draft of the script.

Disney doesn’t haven’t have to worry.  I had everything numbered and got all the scripts back, but I was surprised at how different that early draft was to where we ended up.  That’s just because of the way Sam works, and the way the project develops through the whole process.  I’m sure some of me made it into the character that wasn’t originally on the page.

Finley, China Doll, Oz #DisneyOzEvent
How was it working with Finley and China Girl?

Right.  So Zach Braff plays the flying monkey, Finley, and, Joey King plays the China Girl, the doll made out of porcelain.  Those were some of my favorite scenes.  I thought they were, just great characters and great kind of oddball sidekicks to have in the land of Oz.   I loved (working with) Joey and Zack.  I would do anything with them.

They’re great collaborators.  The actual process of interacting with CG characters is its own kind of thing, but,  filmmakers and actors are getting more and more used to it.  So it’s not as if I’m just acting to nothing the whole time.  There’s a process you go through, and I think I got great training on a movie I did called Planet of the Apes where I got to work with Andy Serkis, who you know, played Gollum, and then played Caesar in my film, and he’s kind of the master of this performance capture kind of film making.

You go through a series of different kinds of takes.  So in the early takes, Zach would be there with me so I could interact with him, and then for the China Girl, there was a great puppeteer who could bring this puppet to life.  Then I would hear Joey’s voice in my ear.  (The puppeteer) would (hear her voice) too, and he’d make the doll react to what she was saying.

Do you ever sleep.  How do you manage all that you do?

I do sleep, you know.  I do a lot of things, but I’m in the fortunate position that my job is what I love so I don’t need a relief from it like someone that doesn’t like their job.  So I just kind of move from project to project because it’s how I enjoy life, you know.   
So it seems like I’m doing a lot of things but it’s really just because I fill all of my time with these things rather than half of my time, you know.  But I sleep about six hours a night.


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OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL lands in theaters on March 8th!

*This event and trip was sponsored by Disney. All opinions are my own.

Trippin with Tara
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  1. Hi Tara,

    Thank you for sharing the great info on Oz! I hate to admit, but I don’t have television service (we use streaming boxes) so I haven’t had the opportunity to see movie previews in a few years. I rely on bloggers who share upcoming movie information and interviews to make my determination on new movies.

    Thank you for keeping me in the loop!

    Have a wonderful week,


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