While I was in Los Angeles for the world premiere of Oz the Great and Powerful, we had an amazing time! You can see a re-cap of all the Oz posts in my Oz movie review. Interviewing the cast of Oz was one of the exciting opportunities we had while we were there. During the weeks leading up to my trip, all I heard about from my 17 year old son was how lucky I was to meet Zach Braff. He really wanted me to get his autograph but I had to explain to him, that even though I’m a fan, I was there as press and had to keep my cool. I’m going to dedicate this interview to my son, Ryan.Photo Credit: movies.yahoo.com
As you all must know by now, Zach Braff plays Finley the Flying Monkey in the film. During production, one of the ways they filmed his character was in a little black booth. By the end of production, they had three solid ways of filming the scenes. He would be scrunched down in this blue screen onesie which he describes as "adorable." For six months, no matter how many times he put it on, everyone pointed and laughed at him. He would sit on his butt and hunch over. He had to because Finley was thirty-six inches tall. The director, Sam Raimi, wanted Zach to capture everything – the gestures and facial expressions.
Sometimes there was a puppet that Zach operate when he needed to be flying and such. There were other times when he could not be there at all, he would be in a booth with cameras all around him. When they did this, James Franco (Oz) would be looking at a monitor that was on a pole. He would have a tiny ear piece in his ear. Sam really wanted them to be there, together. He didn’t just want them in a sound booth at the end of the shoot. He always looked for improvement and wanted it to be like two buddies on a road trip.
Zach’s most memorable moment during filming was when James and him find China Girl (played by Joey King) and James is putting her back together. He says it was genuinely a moving moment – even on the set it was emotional. Usually they would be on these giant sets and, for the first time, they were sitting and it was so surreal. They were literally sitting in a tea kettle, Zach, James, Joey and the puppeteer. They had this beautiful marionette puppet because she was small enough that she could actually have a marionette puppet. The moment was just so sweet and beautiful. Zach’s eyes welled and he realized that the monkey should be somewhat of an easy crier. So, after talking with Sam, they had he covertly swipe his tears so that Oz wouldn’t see.
Photo Credit: bnlmag.com
Zach was nervous the whole time. He was there for so long and working so hard. He wondered if they are going to capture all that he was doing. As an actor you go, they can’t get around your face but when all that you are doing is really reference for an animator, it makes you nervous. You wonder if they are going to capture the subtleties in this. Because it makes you nervous to put your name on something that if it’s not going to capture all the little things you are trying to do. Once he saw the world premiere, he was able to see the subtle face ticks and they even picked up things in the eyes, which he never would have thought they would do. It was very exciting to him and made him happy.
Zach enjoyed doing a comedy that kids would respond to as he did in Chicken Little. Although Zach doesn’t have any children of his own, he loves kids. He does have nieces and nephews that keep him up to date. Which led to a story about Finley the stuffed Flying Monkey. Zach does have one of his own and he has slept with it. Back to the story. His nephew is 12 years old who attended the world premiere of Oz in Los Angeles. His niece couldn’t come out from Florida for the premiere. Zach gave his nephew a stuffed Finley and said I want you to give this to your sister, Ella (she is eight) because she didn’t get to come out. He goes, yeah-yeah-yeah I’ll give it to her. Well his nephew was sleeping on his couch. Zach walked in this morning and his nephew was spooning the stuffed Finley. Zach knew there was no way that Ella was getting that stuffed animal. So he told his publicist that he was going to need a box of them because one was just not going to do.
Even though I was excited to hear everything Zach Braff had to say, I was particularly excited about this one because I asked him what it was like going from Scrubs to playing Finley. He actually said that it helped. The physical comedy and improvisational stuff from Scrubs helps. On Scrubs, once they have one as written, they could play around and come up with stuff. That really is a lot of the stuff people loved and that came out of them improving on Scrubs. This movie was so big and he was thinking they were not going to have time for any of that. Sam really wanted that. He wanted Zach and James to riff. In a sense, Scrubs was a great training ground for this film.
To prepare for his role as a monkey, Zach visited the Detroit Zoo. He stumbled across two monkeys in an "intimate embrace." None of that proved useful. He joked that if there is a sequel, maybe the monkey will get a girlfriend. There really wasn’t too much monkey research that needed to be done. After all, Finley might look like a monkey but he flies and also talks like a human.
Zach during our interview (Photo Credit: insideoutmotherhood.com
Before Zach walked into the room, we had all decided to tweet our hearts out with #FlyingMonkey. There were 25 of us so we were hoping to create a buzz. Midway through our interview, we had #FlyingMonkey trending on Twitter. Zach was surprised and thought that it was really cool. He didn’t believe us at first. I think he was taken back that a room of 25 moms could do that. He said that we are such scary power. He liked that we could band together for good. He even re-tweeted a couple of us.
When Sam first asked Zach to come in and read some script, he didn’t even really want him to audition. He just wanted to talk. Zach went in his room and he had some really rough animatic, pre-visualization stuff. That’s what it was. It was the sequence where they are running off the cliff and right before they go into the bubbles, where he jumps off. The monkey didn’t have any lines. So this was Sam’s example. They had this scene but they wanted someone who could come to the set and figure out who this monkey character was with him and James. He showed Zach the animation and they were watching where Finley jumps off and Oz says, "what are you doing, you’re jumping off?" Zach just went, "I have wings." Sam started dying with laughing and he knew that was a good sign. That’s how it started. He got the gig because he made the director laugh.
Sam wanted someone that could sit there and go, oh what if I said this. Zach promised Sam that he would drive him crazy. He was going to pitch a thousand ideas but told him to just take what he likes and leave the rest – no hard feelings. There were plenty of times where they would be on a set and he would suggest something and, even though they thought it was hysterical, it wasn’t The Monkey.
While filming, Zach stated in Royal Oak. He said it was a really cool town. He can’t help but feel for Detroit. We all know from the news that they’re struggling. Zach felt proud to be a part of this project that was bringing a lot of jobs to town. He hopes that they get their tax incentive back because he thought, from his limited point of view, it looked like it was a great thing for the city. He hopes the city is proud of the movie because it was entirely made there and Pontiac.
At the end of our interview, Zach was nice enough to take a group photo with us. He joked that it would probably be trending on Twitter – or was it a joke? He wished all the other movies were this much fun. I really think he enjoyed hanging out with us moms. He even had one of his people take a group photo from his cell phone. I didn’t think I could love him more than I already do but this was amazing. I feel like I know him and we are friends. Maybe I’ll see him around sometime.
In the second paragraph, I spoke about Zach having to wear a blue screen suit for some of his scenes. Recently, he did an interview on the Conan O’Brien show. He showed off his blue screen suit while he was there. You can check out the clip below.
Photo Credit: entertainment.msn..co.nz
OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL will be at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, CA
March 8th – April 30th in Disney Digital 3D and Real D 3D
An expert wizard will show you the artistry of illusion in a magical showcase.
Although Disney provided me with an all expense paid trip, all thoughts and opinions expressed are those of my own. I genuinely love this movie and it is my pleasure to share my memories with you.