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Oz The Great And Powerful - Rachel Weisz and Michelle Williams interview

Oz: The Great & Powerful

Interview by Rob Carnevale

RACHEL Weisz and Michelle Williams talk about some of the pleasures of making Oz The Great & Powerful, including working with Sam Raimi and getting into wardrobe. They were speaking at a UK press conference…

Q. Was there one thing in particular that made you want to sign up when you read the script?
Rachel Weisz: I really loved the script and the character. I wanted to play somebody wicked and evil. Sam Raimi is the wizard. He is the man behind the curtain. He drew us all to the Emerald City.

Q. How influenced by the original 1939 version were you?
Michelle Williams: Well, Sam and I had a conversation while we were in rehearsals because I didn’t know if I was going to talk in a silly voice and wear like a big pink dress and Sam made a really great point, which was that Glinda in the original movie… there’s a reason that she doesn’t go on the yellow brick road with Dorothy and her friends and that’s because she doesn’t need anything. And that makes her a little bit one dimensional. So, he wanted to bring out her more human qualities. The original film was an inspiration, has always been an inspiration, but it wasn’t really my jumping off point. The books were valuable to me.

Q. And Rachel?
Rachel Weisz: My character, Evanora, is not in the books. So, I couldn’t draw inspiration from the books. She’s a made-up character by the screenplay writers. I guess in the 1939 film her feet are sticking out from under the house… I internalised the ruby slippers and changed them to black [laughs]!

Q. How much did your costumes inform your character?
Rachel Weisz: My character would have been nothing without the sequins, the feathers, the lashes, the corset, the boots, the nails… Evanora is a lot. I’ve really only played characters who wear jeans and T-shirts and have a scrubbed face. Evanora took a couple of hours to get in place. Her costume was hugely important and I think told a big story about her character – she has these feathers, which makes her look a bit like a bird of prey. She’s a military ruler of her army of winged baboons, so the costume was 99% of my character.

Q. And Michelle?
Michelle Williams: When we finally got it right… it was a long process getting to what you see on the screen. I wanted it to be like water, I wanted it to feel like water, I wanted it to flow… my costume started out as a full leather wrap-around mini-skirt with a rapier trim! I have those pictures. So, it came a long way…

Sam Raimi cuts in: And that’s because you worked so hard o it. It contributed a tremendous amount to her. When we go into the final sequences, Michelle was feminine, but going into battle she it was like she was taking responsibility – I’ve been waiting for the wizard to do everything for me, but I realise he’s a fake and I have to stop being a lady in waiting and start being a woman of action now. So, she’s going to war… And so we designed a different costume from that point reflecting that change.

And I think that was true for some of the actors. Rachel presents herself at first in the film at first as the interim leader after the king has been poisoned; she rules the Emerald City, waiting for the Wizard. So, she’s in regal green to emulate the Emerald City and it has a bit of nobility to it. But then when her character changes and it’s revealed she is pure evil, her costume reveals her true colours and she goes black at that point – and her costume for the rest of the picture is who she really is. It’s like a black bird of prey, like a vulture. And all the costumes were sort of iconic in that way. They’re just supposed to present you with a character. So, it was a very simple approach to the wardrobe.

Read our review of Oz The Great & Powerful

Read our interview with Mila Kunis