AN INTERVIEW WITH JOEY KING
FOR THE IN-HOME BLU-RAY AND DVD RELEASE OF
OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL
Disney’s fantastical adventure Oz The Great And Powerful uncovers the origins of the beloved wizard character first brought to life in L. Frank Baum’s book The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz. As a cinematic prequel to the book, the eye-popping action follows the story of Oscar Diggs, a small-time circus magician with dubious ethics. When Diggs is hurled away to the vibrant Land of Oz, he thinks he’s hit the jackpot – until he meets three witches, who aren’t convinced he’s the great wizard everyone is expecting. Reluctantly drawn into epic problems facing Oz and its inhabitants, Oscar must find out who is good and who is evil before it’s too late.
Sam Raimi is the acclaimed director behind the action-packed spectacle, which boasts a stellar cast including James Franco as Oscar Diggs, the predestined wizard; Mila Kunis as the tormented young witch Theodora; Rachel Weisz as Theodora’s older sister, Evanora, the witch who rules over the Emerald City; and Michelle Williams as Glinda, the good witch.
The talented cast also includes Zach Braff, who plays Franco’s circus assistant, while also lending his vocal talents to Finley, one of the CGI creatures in the story. Finley is a winged monkey who accompanies the magician on his journey through Oz, serving as his sounding board and the magician’s conscience. Teenage actress Joey King also plays two characters in the film. Firstly, she lends her voice to a CGI character named China Girl; the porcelain child who joins the future wizard on his fateful excursion through Oz. King also tackles the role of a nameless teenager in Kansas at the start of the movie.
With the Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD of Oz The Great And Powerful about to be released, we chat to Joey King to discover more about the project…
Who do you play in Oz The Great And Powerful?
I play two characters in the movie. Firstly, I play a little girl in a wheelchair in Kansas. I also play a character named China Girl in the land of Oz. China Girl is a much bigger part.
How would you describe China Girl?
China Girl is a sassy little girl who is made completely from china. She’s a really cute character in the movie.
What do you like about her?
I like her personality and I like how she’s very delicate. China Girl is very strong and determined, which is very different from her outer appearance. She fools people with her delicate porcelain skin because she’s tough underneath.
Are you sassy in real life, just like China Girl?
China Girl and I are very similar in a lot of ways. Our personalities are the same and I’m pretty sassy, but China Girl is also a little manipulative. I’m not like that. Oh, but I do pull pranks on my sisters a lot! I guess that’s a little manipulative.
Tell us about the best prank you’ve ever pulled…
The best prank I ever pulled on my sister Hunter was the time I replaced her deodorant with cream cheese. I twisted out the deodorant and put in some cream cheese – and then I gave it to her to use. She was really mad at me, but it was hilarious!
Did you pull any pranks on the set of Oz The Great And Powerful?
Oh, yes! Zach Braff and I pulled a few pranks on each other. One time, I put toilet paper all over his room, which was really funny. There was toilet paper everywhere!
How did you get involved with Oz The Great And Powerful?
At first, I met the director for a screen test. I was up against a few other people for the role, but I really wanted it. I’ll admit it; I was a little nervous when I went into the room to meet him!
How did your screen test go?
It was very exciting because I got to talk to the director about the role in depth. I also got to see China Girl for the first time. They had a little doll of her, which was very cute. I read some lines and I did my best. The rest is history!
Where were you when you discovered you’d won the role?
I was in India filming The Dark Knight Rises when I found out I’d got the part. I was speaking to my sister when she told me the good news and I immediately started screaming. I cried because I was so excited. It was amazing!
How much fun did you have shooting Oz The Great And Powerful?
It was really fun because the studio where we shot the action was amazing. It was a huge building with lots of different, awesome sets. I got to walk along the yellow brick road every day. It was an amazing experience. It was really magical. I’ll never forget it.
What did you get up to when the cameras weren’t rolling?
I just had fun! I got to hang out with my cast mates, which included Zach Braff, James Franco and Michelle Williams. They would tease me all the time, which was very funny. I play China Girl in the movie, but they kept asking me, “Where’s your China Boy?”
What was your reply?
I would giggle and say, “Guys, stop it!” You know what? They were so much fun to hang out with on set. They were really fun to work with, too. I had the best time ever making this movie.
Did you have to do any schoolwork during the film shoot?
I had to do at least three hours of schooling every day, which was fun when I was learning about the subjects I enjoy. It’s not so fun when we were doing math. Math is horrible, but I love history, science, English and reading, as well as art. Math is so difficult. It’s not my thing. Why do I need to learn about linear variations and functions?
China Girl is a computer-generated character in the movie. What was it like to record your voice for the role?
I spent a lot of time in a little sound booth for this role, which was really interesting. There was a big camera filming my face while I read my lines into a microphone.
How much did you work in the sound booth?
I spent quite a while in there. They were filming the action on the set at the same time, so I could see everything on a monitor in the booth. The actors on set had earpieces so that they could hear me say everything. It was pretty cool!
How much time did you spend on set?
I was on set as often as possible. For example, there’s a scene in the dark forest where China Girl and Finley the flying monkey are sitting on a big boulder. Well, Zach [who plays Finley] and I would hide behind the boulder and do our lines from there. The cameras that would film our faces in the booth would film us on set so the animators could still see our facial expressions.
Can you see your facial expressions in the animation of China Girl?
Yes, definitely. I look at China Girl in the movie and I think, ‘Wow… What a resemblance!’ It’s really weird, but very cool. I love seeing her on screen.
What advice would you give to youngsters who want to follow in your footsteps and act?
Keep your dreams alive and never give up. Honestly, you’ve just got to keep going if you want to make it as an actor.
Why is it important to keep your dreams alive?
There’s a lot of disappointment and rejection in this industry. It’s hard, and it’s really difficult to deal with – but you just have to keep going. Never give up because you never know when something is going to come your way.
What would be your dream role?
Well, my ultimate dream is to win an Oscar. Other than that, I’m up for anything. I think a drama would be really cool to do next, but I also love comedies, scary movies, action movies and thrillers. I love everything! I can’t wait to find out what’s next…