Oz: The Great and Powerful is a prequel to the 1939 classic film The Wizard of Oz, so you can imagine how excited I was to visit the movie set with a handful of other reporters during filming last year. Not only were we able to set foot on the yellow brick road, but we also got a close look at Emerald City, the munchkins, and Glinda and Oz themselves, Michelle Williams and James Franco. We sat down with Williams to discuss her experience playing the good witch, being a role model for young girls, and making the jump from indie films to a potential blockbuster.
How great is it to step on set and literally be a fairy-tale figure for a bunch of kids?
Michelle Williams: It's the best. There's nothing better than making kids happy and seeing little girls' faces light up just at the sight of me.
Are you going to keep the tiara?
MW: I think that tiara has a price tag that I couldn't afford!
How much inspiration did you get from the original Glinda?
MW: We talked about her a lot. But Sam [Raimi] wanted to shy away from anything that referenced her too heavily. He wanted our very own Glinda. So there's little nods in a few costumes and a couple of lines. But she's a starting-off point. I just think of her as where Glinda started. When you meet Glinda in the original Wizard of Oz, she is omniscient, she has a kind of calm. But we like to think that that's where she wound up and this is kind of more where she began.
What's the chemistry like on set with you and James [Franco], and Mila [Kunis]? What's the relationship like?
MW: The chemistry? The sexual chemistry? [Laughs] Let me tell you. What's the chemistry like? It's a ball.
This film is quite different from your other recent movies, like Meek's Cutoff and Take This Waltz.
MW: There have been a lot of first times for me on this movie. The imaginary world. You see a big blue screen, but of course you won't see a big blue screen. You're going to see things flying, and you're going to see a sun setting, and you're going to see flowers turning. You're going to see things! But often you're not really able to have the real thing there when you do it. Most of the movies that I make tend to be smaller, and sort of more intimate. It's just a smaller crew. And I like things feeling like a family, so I've just tried to make this feel like a really big family. But it's a happy one because Sam's the dad, and it all comes down from there.
Does it make you excited about the possibility of doing more big-budget films, or are you itching to go back to the smaller stuff?
MW: I don't know. I guess because of Sam, it doesn't feel impersonal in any way. Which is always what my fear is of making bigger movies — that you don't get to know people. But it doesn't feel alienating in any way.
To see what else Williams had to say about her character and stepping out on the yellow brick road, just read more