Mila Kunis: Witchy Times Two In Oz
By: Lynn Barker
In the new magical fantasy film Oz: The Great and Powerful, a prequel to The Wizard of Oz, we learn how the wizard got to the fanciful land and became “great and powerful”. In the new film, Actress Mila Kunis (Friends with Benefits, Ted, Black Swan) plays beautiful Theodora, an innocent, good witch who only wants the best for her people until Oscar Diggs, later the Wizard, comes to Oz, sweeps her off her feet and then…moves on. Let’s just say that she doesn’t take that well.
Mila at the Oz premiere
In Pasadena, Ca. recently, we found out that Mila had a blast making the film, loved her costumes and thought of her colorful character as just “a normal girl who gets her heart broken”.
Kidzworld: Mila, what was the best part of playing a witch?
- Mila: It’s fun to play somebody that has no boundaries, that has no rules. There’s no book you can read on how to play a witch so you kind of just create your own version but it’s really great.
Mila as Theodora
Kidzworld: What was your first experience with the original Oz books and film?
- Mila: The first full length book that I read when I was nine years old in English was “Return to Oz”. And then, before DVDs, CBS T.V. used to (show) The Wizard of Oz once a year so when you're poor, that's what you get. We’d sit down with popcorn and watch the remastered version of The Wizard of Oz. Coincidentally, it was on the same night as the remastered Poltergeist. It was a really weird double feature! But I had the fondest memories of The Wizard of Oz. One of my favorite, favorite movies was and always will be The Wizard of Oz.
Mila with James Franco at our interview
Courtesy of Lynn Barker
Kidzworld: You play the same character but it two very different forms. As an actress, how did you make the transformation from good to bad witch?
- Mila: I honestly was given the gift of a backstory for Theodora and I went with it. It's a young, naive girl who falls in love, gets her heart broken, who doesn't know how to deal with the emotional aspect of heartache and takes the easy way out. Her sister presents her with this magic apple and her emotional transformation gets mirrored the physical one. So to me, it was just a normal girl that falls in love and gets a broken heart and just so happens to be a witch.
- With (the bad witch), it took four hours to put on the make-up every day and an hour to take off. I'll tell you, the first time ever in my career putting on the costume and putting on the face and the contact lenses truly did help me lose inhibition and allowed me to just have fun and not concern myself necessarily with what I look like and what people thought because I was green with a big nose and a pointy chin.
Oscar (later Wiz) and Theodora walk to Emerald City
Kidzworld: Which version of Theodora was more fun to play; good or bad witch?
- Mila: I honestly didn't look at it as two different characters or two different emotional aspects of a character. You're lucky if you're given a character that has an arc in any film, and this just so happens to be a fantastical, slightly over the top arc. That's all it was. I think that if I went into it going, 'Well, here's my version of good and here's my version of evil,' I don't think anyone would buy it. I think both are fun. Truth be told, I felt like I was wearing a character when I was wearing the red hat and the red lips and the pants and the riding suit. Then the same goes for when she has her transformation. I think they're both very striking characters and they're both fun to play.
Sisters Evanora and Theodora (Mila)
Kidzworld: Do you worry about being compared to the original witch played by Margaret Hamilton in the classic Wizard of Oz film?
- Mila: I mean, I’d be lying if I told you that it wasn’t incredibly frightening because it is and she was phenomenal and did create such an iconic character for going on eighty years now. I wasn’t gonna touch it. I did not re-watch the movie. I didn’t go there because there was no way of me ever doing it justice. And so this is the 21st century version of that. Now there’s a corset involved and it’s a little tighter and she’s maybe not hunched over so much. But, what Margaret did will be forever be in my mind, the greatest witch of all time. It’s like a love letter to her, I guess, in a way.
Kidzworld: You do a lot of your own flying stunts in the movie. You were pretty amazing up there with a broom!
- Mila: (smiles) Why, thank you!
Mila as Wicked Witch
Kidzworld: Are you a very physical person and keep yourself strong so that when you have stunt work you can just nail it? Was it fun?
- Mila: Yeah. Apparently, I like it ‘cause I keep doing movies that require wires so I guess I had a great time. It’s really not hard to be wired and to have somebody else be responsible for the wire work and your life up there. Your only responsibility is to sustain seventeen hours on those wires. I guess I do work out a little bit for that purpose. The movie that I’m doing that’s following up this one (Jupiter Ascending) I think, requires a lot more wire training than this one did. But at least this one prepped me for it. I love it. I have to tell you, I do. I will do and have done all my own stunts as much as I’m allowed.
Oscar and Theodora on the run
Kidzworld: So you feel safe up there?
- Mila: Scott Rogers and I did two movies back to back at that point. He was the stunt coordinator for Ted so he allowed me to drive like a crazy maniac when he probably shouldn't have. So that point I was like, "Scott's crazy. I trust him." So then when we went on to do Oz, I was like, "This is fine. I've jumped out of planes before. This can't be worse”, and it's not. I think it's really bad if you happen to have fear of heights. I do not so I'm okay when I’m up, what? 30, 35 feet in the air? You're strung up on multiple wires. Should anything happen, there's an emergency brake and there are so many elements that go into play that you really aren't even given the opportunity to be nervous.
Kidzworld: There were some cool sets but also a lot of computer effects in this film. Was that a good experience for you, pretending an amazing background was there?
- Mila: I actually got very lucky. James (Franco who plays Oz) had the harder job. I was surrounded with tangible sets and actual living beings for most of the film. My interactions were mostly with Rachel (Weisz) and with James and with Michelle (Williams). In Emerald City, we were in Glinda's Castle, and in the woods and the waterfall. So I was actually surrounded by actual tangible items. I was just coming off of another film (Ted) where I was talking to a CGI character that wasn’t there so for me this was easier.
Mila with James Franco on set
Kidzworld: What do you think your wicked character would do if they were in today's world?
- Mila: If we were in today's world at this very moment, what she would be doing? Buying a lot of moisturizer. I would be investing in some face cream.
Kidzworld: Are you excited for kids, teens and families to see this fun film?
- Mila: Oh gosh, you know what I realized while doing press for this, that this is the first film that I've ever done that kids are allowed to see. That’s very tragic to me. I was like “Oh my God, this is the first non R-rated film I’ve been in”. This is my very first kid-friendly film so I am so beyond excited to just have fans under the age of 17. I love kids and in 20 years, I would love to be proud of something that I can ultimately show my children and my grandkids. And I don't necessarily know if Ted or Black Swan fit that category. So this is really, really special to me on so many levels. It's such a sweet, special world to be a part of. It's such an honor to be a part of it.
Mila's Theodora poster