James Franco Interview| The Wizard from Oz the Great and Powerful | #DisneyOzEvent

James Franco Interview| The Wizard from Oz the Great and Powerful


I’ll admit it. Every single one of the 25 mommy bloggers in the room were eager for our James Franco interview. The anticipation could be felt in the room as he entered… and the stress dissipate at James’ first sentence…

James Franco : 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.

We learned a few things about James during this short 15 minutes. He was just as handsome in person, he was so articulate… his intelligence shown through as he spoke, he loves what he does and he’s also in the education field! I hope you enjoy his interview as much as we did!


Q : Yesterday we were at the Disney Store and there were tons of dolls of you. Have you seen them?

James Franco : I have not seen that, no, no. Very odd, huh?

Q : Does that freak you out?

James Franco : I’ve had dolls made before. I did the Spiderman films so it’s nothing new to me.

Q : Girls will by these, though, not little boys.

James Franco : Oh right, exactly. Well, sorry. [LAUGHS].

Q : And now you will be found naked at the bottom of a Barbie box.

James Franco : [LAUGHS] Yeah, examine that doll. I don’t know.

Q : What was your most memorable moment in filming the movie?

James Franco : Frankly, it wasn’t hard. I can’t look back on any…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. All the other actors and actress were great to work with, so it was mainly just long but it was enjoyable all the way through, so I don’t know. There’s nothing I can think back and be like, oh, that was, that was so hard to do.


Q : What was your favorite part with the magic, and can you do it in real life now?

James Franco : I can. Well, I had to train. I trained with a Vegas magician, Lance Burton. 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. It was fun to learn anyways.

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

James Franco : I was. When I was a boy, that was days 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. It was fourteen or fifteen that he wrote and I just sped through them. I remember there was a local book store, called The Printer’s Ink in Paulo Alto. 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.

Q : How was this role different for you compared to Spiderman?

James Franco : In the Spiderman films, I play Harry Osborne who is a supporting character. And, um, the thing I’ve learned about Sam Raimi is that he identifies with the main 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 again I think Oz is a stand-in for certain sides of Sam, you know. Sam has a little- he has a nerdy side and a childlike side, but he also, he can be a little bit of a, a trickster, I guess. In addition to that, Oz is an entertainer. He deals in- he creates illusions to entertain people, and that’s exactly what Sam does.

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


Q : Who’s your favorite witch to work with?

James Franco : That’s a hard question. You’re gonna get me in trouble, but, they are some of the best actresses alive. We’re very fortunate to have all of them, and they’re all very different, but the roles are very different. So each one was enjoyable, a very different experience, and I was glad to have all of them.

Q : Did Sam give you license to add personality yourself?

James Franco : Sam is a very collaborative director. He collaborates with the actors, but with everybody. And so everyone is welcome to bring things to the table. And so with the character Oz, not only did we rehearse in two weeks in advance of the film, we rehearsed throughout the film.

So 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…some of my students are here from my English class at UCLA, 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. I was surprised at how different that early draft was to where we ended up and that’s just because of the way Sam works and the way the project develops through the whole process. So, I’m sure some of me made it into the character that wasn’t originally on the page.


Finley (voiced by Zach Braff), left; China Girl (voidced by Joey King), center;  James Franco, right

©Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Q : How was it working with Finley and China Girl?

James Franco : Right. So, Zach Braff plays the flying monkey, Finley, and Joey King plays the China Girl, the doll made out of porcelain. And 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. And then, I loved Joey and and Zack. I would do anything with them. They’re great collaborators.

The actual process of interacting with CG characters is it’s own kind of thing. 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 filmmaking.

So 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. Then for the China Girl, there was a great puppeteer who could bring this puppet to life, and then I would hear Joey’s voice in my ear. And he would, too, and he’d make the doll react to her to what she was saying.

So you do those in the early takes and if the computer animators want to, they can always use my side of those takes and then paint out Zack or paint out the puppet. But then at the end of that, that series of takes, once the scene is sort of ingrained in me…the flow of the interaction…they’ll always take them out. So I will eventually have a take where I’m acting to nothing and if you, [LAUGHS], were a guest that day and saw that, you’d think I’m an insane person or something. By that point, the performances, you know, I know it. …I still get to hear their voices in my ear. So it’s not like I’m making all of it up. I still get most of what I get as a performer from interacting with another person.

Q : Do you ever sleep. How do you manage all your time, with all these great film and educational?

James Franco : 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 and I don’t need a relief from it like somebody who doesn’t like their job does. So I just kind of move from project to project because it’s how I enjoy life.

So it seems like I’m doing a lot of things but it’s really just because I fill all of my time these things rather than half of my time…But I sleep about six hours a night. [laughs]


If you haven’t had a chance, check out the rest of the cast interviews!

Michelle Williams | Glina the Good

Sam Raimi | Director

Mila Kunis | Theadora

James Franco | The Wizard

Rachel Weisz | Evanora

Joey King | China Girl

Zach Braff | Finley






Disclosure: I attended this press trip as a Guest of Disney. All opinions are 100% my own.


  1. Christina Jackson says

    great interview! Loved how he talked about researching the character and actually learning magic…very cool!

  2. jamie braun says

    love love LOVE him! gosh, i cant wait to see this movie! so many great actors

  3. april yedinak says

    James Franco…….*sigh*…….

  4. Vickie Couturier says

    good review,,he seems very calm an laid back

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