Michelle Williams Interview For ‘Oz The Great and Powerful’
Sam Raimi’s ‘Oz The Great and Powerful’ imagines the origins of L. Frank Baum’s beloved character, the Wizard of Oz. When Oscar Diggs (James Franco), a small-time circus magician with dubious ethics, is hurled away from dusty Kansas to the vibrant Land of Oz, he thinks he’s hit the jackpot – fame and fortune are his for the taking – that is until he meets three witches, Theodora (Mila Kunis), Evanora (Rachel Weisz) and Glinda (Michelle Williams), who are not convinced he is the great wizard everyone’s been expecting. Reluctantly drawn into the epic problems facing the Land of Oz and its inhabitants, Oscar must find out who is good and who is evil before it is too late. Putting his magical arts to use through illusion, ingenuity – and even a bit of wizardry – Oscar transforms himself not only into the great and powerful Wizard of Oz but into a better man as well. ‘Oz The Great and Powerful’ is pencilled in for a March 8th release. In the film Michelle Williams play Glinda, a good witch who rules over a kingdom of simple, kind folk. Beautiful Glinda is not only a compassionate and benevolent witch, but also a fierce protector of her people. Though Glinda sees through Oz’s facade early on, she knows genuine goodness lies within and helps Oz achieve his true destiny.
What was your primary motivation for playing Glinda the good witch, or was there a range of things that grabbed your interest?
Michelle Williams: There was so many! It was a wonderful convergence of so many exciting reasons to take this movie on: I really wanted to work with director Sam Raimi, I wanted to make a movie for kids, and I wanted to play a character who brought out the best in human possibility. Also, I really wanted to make a movie that my daughter could see, and I was really excited to be a part of something that had an overall “good” message, and wasn’t kind of tainted with sarcasm or ill-humour (laughs). I was really excited to play Glinda, who is the embodiment of everything honest and unselfish and pure. I liked that (laughs). And working with Sam, he’s just a great guy, and to me that’s as important as him being a great director. He was somebody that I could always turn to or go to. He was like a touchstone on set for me. Sam’s my dream director, I love that he never loses his sense of humour.
Glinda goes through quite an evolution in the film, and her dynamic with James Franco’s character evolves as well.
Michelle Williams: Definitely. She does go through an evolution in the film. In the beginning she’s waiting for her prince to come…. aren’t most girls (laughs), she’s waiting for somebody to come and save the day and rescue her and the people she’s been entrusted with from this terrible situation. And then she realises that there is no such thing as perfect, and that he is the Wizard, but he’s not quite what she was hoping for. She also realises that she’s going to have to take a more active role in her own fate.
I liked her transition as well, even in her look. When we meet her she’s sort of more demure, she’s cloaked in these very delicate fabrics. And then as the battle dawns she has a wardrobe change and appropriately suits up in something that’s slightly tougher and more like armour, albeit fairy princess armour (laughs), but more like armour.
And she instills a lot of belief in this man, this flawed man?
Michelle Williams: Yeah, Glinda’s an optimistic person by nature. She’s been expecting a Wizard to come and save them and deliver them from the tyranny of the Wicked Witch. And then she realises that he isn’t the man that she was hoping for. And so she has to kind of manage her expectations, surmount what she was hoping for and deal with the reality that’s in front of her… really to try to bring out the best in him. Despite evidence to the contrary she always believes in Oz. And that is rewarded. I think Glinda holds the space for Oz to grow into his best self, her belief is what sees him through. Oz grows into the man that she believed in, the man that he couldn’t see it.
How did you view her back-story, before we meet her in ‘Oz The Great and Powerful?
Michelle Williams: I thought of her as a really good mummy (laughs), or a school teacher. She takes care of the Quadlings, the Tinkers and Munchkins. She has been harboring them, in essence they’ve been refugees. Glinda’s built a protective bubble around them and they’ve been living in Quadling kingdom while she’s been in an exile of sort, from the Emerald City.
What was it like working on these fantastical sets Robert Stromberg and his team put together? I can imagine that really helps inform your performance….?
Michelle Williams: They were hugely important, just to make you feel like you’re not flapping around in the breeze on this giant green-screen set (laughs). He really brought it all home for you, literally (laughs). He grounded it for you and gave you real stairs to walk up. He gave you all of these things in the various lands and sets that you could glean feelings off of, because different space effects how you feel, it effects how you feel on the inside. So when you look at the sets, the details were so distinct and so meticulous and so beautiful. It was inspiring, it was inspiring to be around, it was more inspiring than green-screen (laughs).
It was exciting to go to work because the magical world wasn’t all in our heads. Robert and his team built the sets that we were working on. There was an actual Yellow Brick Road, and my castle was like a fairy-tale but it was complete, it was right there in front of my eyes. So with that it takes some of the work out of it, you don’t have to imagine your entire surrounding. I think Sam and Robert went to great efforts to make the actors feel like they were at home in these places. And we all got to take a little piece of the Yellow Brick Road home with us, that was pretty cool (laughs).
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