Speaking With The Wizards Of Oz
Published: Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 22:02
Q: What inspired your version of the World of Oz?
A: Well I drew it all from the great author L. Frank Baum, his vision of Oz, that he had written about in 14 some books. And then, I was also inspired by the illustrator, W. W. Denslow, he was the original illustrator of the L. Frank Baum books. So a lot of inspiration was taken from his drawings. But I was also inspired by the great classic movie, Wizard of Oz, of course, who would not be inspired by that? A lot of the visuals of the movie, but more than the visuals; what inspired me about the Wizard of Oz movie, was the character’s sense of love that they have for each other. How friends come together and that very soulful sweet message that comes at the end of the picture when we learn from the Wizard that all of us are complete, all of us broken, lonely individuals are completely, we have within us the thing to make us complete if we only recognize it. That gave me a great source of inspiration.
Q: What was it about these actors, who between them have a very diverse acting background, that makes them so perfect for their respective roles?
A: Well it all comes down to the casting process. I wasn’t looking for, necessarily the very best actor or actress in the world. I was looking for that actor or actress that had the qualities of the character they’re going to portray. And I guess that’s the essence of the casting process. And, I guess, the old saying is, you want to find the right person for the role. So I’m looking for, like with Mila Kunis’s character, she plays Theodora, and Theodora is a good and innocent character, so I’m looking for someone who could portray that innocence and also she makes a turn for the wicked side. The wizard breaks her heart and first she’s heartbroken, but then a deep anger starts to stir within her, and she becomes a raging woman scorned. So I needed somebody who would portray both sides of that character. And there are a lot of great actresses, but when I saw two movies it told me that she could handle both sides. One was Forgetting Sarah Marshall and I saw this real positive vibe that she put out as this, I guess, Hawaiian hotel clerk. And I thought, there is an innocent positive force, that is, I believe she could play Theodora. And then when I saw the brilliant Black Swan, where she had this real dark and nasty witchy quality. That told me that she could play the other half of the role. So between those movies, I thought that she had everything it took to become Theodora. And the same is true, I want to get through all the actresses, but for instance, um, with Michelle Williams, who plays Glinda the Good Witch. Primarily I thought the most important thing with this character is a source of pure goodness. And I needed an actress that had a good soul. So suddenly that ruled about 90 percent of the actresses in Hollywood. (laughing) Anyways. What I mean to say is that when you spend time with Michelle Williams, she puts out a very sweet aura. And I consider her to be a very good soul. And that’s something that I thought couldn’t be faked by an actor, no matter how fine they were. Because when the camera gets in close, really close to the face of the actor or actress, the audience knows whether they’re true or not. They know in their heart whether or not … they can judge it from a critical point of view, I don’t know, but you can feel it. And I needed her to radiate that goodness.
Q: What was the best part of working on the film? And also, what was the most challenging part of working on the film?
A: The best part of the picture for me was, as a director, was once I had worked on the thing for like two years and eight months, was to hear Danny Elfman, our composer, create such a fantastic score. Because he took the emotions that were in the movie and he elevated them. He took the drama and he deepened it, the thread enhanced it. So he basically made everything better, he was the secret sauce that brings it to the next level. That was the best part for me, to see the movie whole and be made better and be brought together. The most challenging, I think was probably not dissimilar from other filmmakers and their ensemble movies, where there are many characters, and many back stories, and many interconnected relationship tales, and juggling what part of their back story should I include? What part should I cut out? What part should I give the audience? And what part would be most effective if I let the audience use their own imagination to fill in the blanks? Because, that’s really the secret I think—letting the audience participate. Not spoon-feeding them everything, but giving them just enough tools to finish building the bridge and make them their own collaborator. And it’s that part about it, part of that is what to withhold.
Q: What are you most excited about for audiences to take away from seeing the film?
A: Ideally I’d like them to feel uplifted. The best thing that stories could do for us is reverberate with truth and, show us the way in a way that is not pushy or preachy, but basically, if you could recognize this is true, and that’s true, and see there is a way to be happy with material goods, without the pride, without sense of self being everything [and] all dominating, there’s a simple beauty in loving another person and friends coming together, in being selfless. And that’s what this movie’s message is, and that’s what I’d like the audience to come away with.