Director Sam Raimi’s Interview | Oz the Great and Powerful #DisneyOzEvent

My trip to Los Angeles for the red carpet World Premiere of Oz the Great and Powerful was amazing! The movie was fabulous and I was excited to have the chance to interview the Director, Sam Raimi. Who better to get the scoop from than the Director!? My review for the movie will be coming up soon. For now, enjoy! 

I know what you are thinking. The original Wizard of Oz is such a legendary movie, how did this happen? Well, our first question to Sam was what it was like to have the weight of Oz on your shoulders. He felt that he had a great sense of responsibility not to tread upon the good name and the beloved classic, “The Wizard of Oz.” That was his biggest fear. When he was first approached with the script, he didn’t even want to read it. He said he didn’t want to "mess with that classic." That was that. He didn’t read the script. 

A couple weeks later, he was looking for a writer and somebody said, "Read this. It’s a writing sample."  So he read the script. He thought, "I’m falling in love with this story and this world and these characters.”  He knew then that he had to make the movie because he felt uplifted by the end of reading this. Sam knew that if he made the movie to portray how the script made him feel, he wouldn’t be treading on the good name of "The Wizard of Oz," This would be just another positive story. 

When asked about the level of scare tactic in the Oz movie when it comes to small children, I was happy to hear it was something weighing him throughout the process. During the writing of the script, Sam would make sure there was no violence because he really wanted to make a family film. He even changed the makeup once or twice to make it a little less scary. He wanted to find a line to where it’s scary enough without being too scary to bring the kids along.

During our time with Sam, we inquired about James Franco in the leading role as the wizard. Even though he had a long relationship with James and liked him very much, he wasn’t thinking about James in the beginning. He was thinking more like Johnny Depp and a couple other actors. It didn’t work out for them and he heard James was interested in the part. Although he never considered James, he did have the qualities – the good and the bad ones.

The Wizard is a very selfish individual. Sam knew James as a young man and had seen him be a little selfish and into himself. He needed that. Through the years that Sam worked with him, he saw a generous spirit emerge as James worked with other actors. Sam saw kindness and good qualities emerge until they became friends – not just co-workers. That is what casting is about for Sam Raimi – finding the essence of the character in a person.

When we asked Sam who is absolute favorite character was he stated that he admired Evanora (played by Rachel Weisz). He liked her character because she was so nasty and doesn’t try to hit it. She puts on illusions but really digs who she is. He said, "That’s like my mother, you know." Don’t worry. I’m not telling you anything you shouldn’t hear. He said his mother knows who she is. 

He also loves Oz (played by James Franco). He personally identifies with this character. Sam can understand wanting to become a better person. It’s like a dream. Whether he ever had the courage of that character to do what he did, he wasn’t too sure about. He can definitely relate to the character. He understands his failings, simple desires and low qualities. He also threw in that he loves China Girl (played by Joey King). She was his little sweetheart. 

One thing that really impressed me about Sam Raimi was the selection process he went through when choosing the other characters. He would meet different actors, they would come in and they would talk about the role. He was trying to get a sense of who they were. That was hard because they were trying to impress him by trying to look pretty, handsome and be charming. Interviews situations are hard for Sam because they are pretending to be something and he doesn’t want that. 

For example, when it came to casting Glinda (played by Michelle Williams), he didn’t want someone to just try and play the part. He wanted to see if they had real goodness inside of them. Can that person play Glinda – did they have a sincerity in their soul. So as quickly as he can get past the niceties and really start talking to them, it’s better for him to understand who they are and if they are right for the part. 

Having already seen the Oz movie, I can tell you that the set was amazing! The details were perfect. We wanted to know his thought process on that. Once the look was figured out, they had to decide what they were going to build and what would be just CGI (Computer Generated Imagery. It was very important for Sam to have real places for the actors to touch and see so they could ground the movie. It’s such a fantastical adventure, he needed to ground it more than a regular drama with real human performances. There were so many worlds within this fantastic world, Sam wanted very unique looks in each of them. 

In the beginning, Disney was going to film Oz in Vancouver. Although Sam loves Canada, he was happy that it would be filmed in his home state of Michigan. He was happy that the movie was able to employ some of the Michigan residents. He said they were a really hard working crew and that everybody in Hollywood was surprised at how talented the technical skills were of the Michigan artists and technicians. 

Sam said the size of the movie was enormous and, compared to his other movies, this took some getting used to. Because the Land of Oz is how Frank Baum wrote it, everything had to be outrageous and unique. Everything had to be created in the computer including impassible deserts, fantastical waterfalls, outrageous mountains and woods. 

Sam worked with the production designer, Robert Stromberg, by creating the smallest things first. The smallest blade of grass – they wanted to figure out what it looks like in Oz. What does the smallest blossom look like?  Then multiplying those by a thousand to see what a field might look like. Next, working into building each individual tree to make it a unique thing.  Everything had to be created. Every car had to be handcrafted. Building the world was the most difficult job. 

We praised Sam Raimi for respecting the original movie and it was nice to see portions of it. What we really wanted to know is if there is going to be a sequel. Even though we are all for another, it’s early to predict. It will depend on how the movie does with the audience and Disney. In my opinion, the audience will love it – I know I did! 

*All photos courtesy of Disney unless otherwise noted.

 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 

March 8 – 31 ONLY you can see “Disney Mysteries of Magic” live on stage!  
An expert wizard will show you the artistry of illusion in a magical showcase.  
March 8 – April 30, you can see an exclusive display of costumes from the movie!  
For tickets call 1 (800) DISNEY6 or visit www.elcapitantickets.com

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. 



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  2. What a great interview! This had to be an amazing trip! I love the look behind the scenes this interview offers and I’m glad to hear that the director took the scare factor into account and wanted to make it a family friendly movie. I can’t wait to see it!

  3. How cool that you got to interview him! I am really looking forward to seeing this movie.

  4. This movie looks so good. I cant wait to see it!

  5. I cannot wait to see this movie. It looks fantastic!

  6. I really like his take on wanting it to be scary enough, but not so scary that you can’t take the kids along. It looks absolutely brilliant and i can’t wait to see it.


  1. […] Most of the sets were actually built. I remember that was very important to the director, Sam Raimi. She mentioned the castle, Emerald City, the forest, the woods, the cemetery – it was all […]