Rachel Weisz James Franco oz

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. A witch to be feared, Evanora is Theodora’s over-protective sister. With her penetrating gaze, she exudes a powerful presence and has positioned herself as the royal adviser and protector of Emerald City.

What elements appealed to you about playing Evanora, and what challenges did you face playing her? 

Rachel Weisz: I really liked how bad and wicked and manipulative Evanora is. She’s someone who has a lot of fun while she’s being bad, and that just struck me of being a kind of cool character (laughs). I loved being able to be a bad girl,. She’s truly rotten to her core. And I’ve never actually played a fantasy character before, this is the first time I’ve played a character who’s not from Earth. So I suppose that was a challenge, just to base someone completely on fantasy. That was a challenge, but that was also what was fun about it.

Your character has an interesting, manipulative relationship with her younger sister Theodora. How was that to play with?

Rachel Weisz: Yeah. My younger sister in the story, Theodora, who’s played by Mila Kunis, she’s very naive and sweet and good, but I know that we have the same parents, I know that deep down she is repressing her evil side. So my characters biggest hope in life is to try to persuade her to dark side – I sound like Darth Vader (laughs). And Mila’s got a really great range, so with her starting off as this sweet…. she’s got those incredible, big eyes – so she can do innocent and sweet and vulnerable really really well (laughs). Theodora’s incredibly gullible, you can tell her anything and she’ll believe it.

Rachel Weisz oz Mila Kunis

And then you’ve got Michelle Williams as Glinda, who’s pretty much the polar opposite of your character. How was it working with Michelle considering that dynamic?

Rachel Weisz: It was great working with Michelle because her character exemplifies pure good and my character exemplifies pure evil, so it was fun being her enemy (laughs). Me and Michelle get along really well, so I’m allowed to be really mean to her when the camera is rolling. It’s fun – it’s really fun when my characters really cruel to her. And Michelle, again, like Mila, she’s a really incredible actress. I loved working with her.

Evanora doesn’t hold much stock in Oz?

Rachel Weisz: Yeah. When I meet Oz I can pretty much vouch for the fact that he’s not the Wizard, plus I don’t want him to be the Wizard because I want to have the throne and if he becomes the Wizard he’s gonna take the throne – so I want him dead, whatever happens. I’m pretty much right in my assessment of him because he’s just a conman from Earth, he’s not yet become the Wizard. I’m very suspicious of him, I don’t trust him, but I feel like I want to charm him and then I decide that I want to use him to kill Glinda. I have a bit of fun.

What was it like working on these fantastical sets and wearing your costume, I can imagine that really helps inform your performance? And your character in particular, her attire fits her persona….

Rachel Weisz: Definitely. I just have one dress in the film, one frock. It goes from emerald green to black. It transforms to black once the audience finds out I’m evil – so I’m sort of showing my true colours. The dress is covered in sequins, it has feathers on the shoulders, it has a sort of feather collar- it’s a little bit militaristic, via Vegas (laughs). It’s big, everything about Evanora is big, she’s really over the top. The costume was essential for the character, I couldn’t have played her in jeans and a t-shirt, it wouldn’t have worked out (laughs). My character is the costume!

The sets were amazing. Some of them were real practical sets that were actually built, and then some of them were computer generated. So seeing it for the first time in its finished form, I was blown away. The designs were pretty cool. It was great working on the sets and working with Sam Raimi. Sam is a gentleman, he’s very romantic, he’s very kind, he’s very empathetic and he has an incredible, child-like imagination. He’s an incredibly sweet person to be around and to work with, he’s patient and giving and he’s lovely – he’s a really lovely person, basically (laughs).