While Joey King has a huge part in Sam Raimi’s Oz the Great and Powerful, you’re only going to see her on screen in the beginning of the film. King explains:
“I play two characters. When Oz in Kansas, I play a little wheelchair girl. I meet Oz while he’s doing a magic show. She asks him a favor that he can’t return, really. Then I play China Girl, which is my main role. I play a little two-foot tall girl. She’s really cute. She’s really sassy. Oz just kind of takes her in and becomes an adopted father to her.”
As I said in my set report, to make China Girl feel real while filming, King would be in a voice booth off set while Phillip Huber did on set puppetry with a custom made maquette. Whoever was acting with China Girl would see the maquette but would hear King in an earpiece. In post production, the maquette will be digitally removed and an all CGI creation will be added in. While it’s a ton of work, I think this will make the performances look and feel authentic. Hit the jump for more.
During an on set group interview with King, she talked about landing the role, the process of playing China Girl, more on her real world character, her favorite sets, making adults put money in a swear jar, and a lot more. But before getting to the interview, if you haven’t seen the latest trailer I’d watch that first:
If you’d like to listen to the audio of this interview click here. Otherwise the full transcript is below.
Joey King: It’s really cool to say that I can walk on the yellow brick mom. My mom, whenever she steps on the yellow brick road goes, “Oooh! I’m on the yellow brick road!” I feel the same way since I saw the original “Wizard of Oz” movie. It’s really exciting.
What was your favorite part of the original?
King: I don’t know. I love that when she lands in Oz it turns so colorful, since it goes from black and white to colors. I think it’s just really spectacular how they did that thing because you get to see how colorful Oz is. I love everything about the movie! I love the Scarecrow! I love the Tin Man! Everything.
Can you tell us a little bit about your character?
King: I play two characters. In Kansas, when Oz in Kansas, I play a little wheelchair girl. I meet Oz while he’s doing a magic show. She asks him a favor that he can’t return, really. Then I play China Girl, which is my main role. I play a little two-foot tall girl. She’s really cute. She’s really sassy. Oz just kind of takes her in and becomes an adopted father to her.
We were hearing that there’s an interesting way of shooting this where you go into a booth.
King: Yeah! I do have to go into a booth for filming because they’re filming my face in the booth. Because I’m only two-foot tall, I can’t really be out there squatting so I have China Girl’s body and my head’s on her. It’s very interesting. It’s like nothing I’ve ever done before. It’s not like a voiceover and it’s not like being on set. It’s really different. Zach Braff is kind of doing the same thing and we’re in the same booth together. It’s really fun. It’s crazy. He’s really funny.
King: The first scenes were very — we had a lot of people there. There were clowns there and I’m afraid of clowns so that was fun. We had some fire eaters there. Different acrobatic people. It was very interesting to see all those people there. I had to wear a wig for it so I had long blonde hair. It wasn’t just any old wheelchair that you see in this movie. It’s this old wheelchair. It’s wooden. I don’t even know how to explain it. It’s very creepy, really.
A lot of wicker and really creepy wheels?
King: Yeah, those giant wheels. It was really fun getting to film in a circus. They turned a studio into a circus and it really looked like a circus. They had all the tents set up. It was really, really fun filming in a circus scene. I think Oz is pretty amazing, though and I love filming in Oz. There’s the yellow brick road. Everything is there. Glinda’s palace. The Emerald City.
But you don’t have any scenes where you’re physically on the yellow brick road?
King: Yeah, unless I’m rehearsing I don’t really step foot on there. But the first scenes of the movie where I’m in a wheelchair I’m on set-set.
So are you taking a lot of photos with James Franco and Michelle Williams so you can say, “No, I swear that’s me in the movie!”
King: No, they’ll know! They’ll believe me of course. We’re not supposed to take pictures on set anyway of the wardrobe and everything. Because I barely see them out of their wardrobe! I don’t even know what they look like when they come in. Their in wardrobe most of the time.
King: Yes, I’m very sad. Like I said, it’s different than anything I’ve ever done. I’m used to getting up in the morning, waking up early, going to hair and makeup. It’s kind of sad that I’m not there anymore because I make friends with the hair and makeup team and, in the beginning of the movie, I had to have my hair done and my makeup done. So I still go visit them sometimes. We chat. It’s sad that I don’t get to be a part of that but it’s fun to try new things and to try different things.
Can you talk a little about the China Girl’s personality? I know her legs get broken and she’s the last of her town, right?
King: Yeah, she’s the last of her town. The last of her family. At first, yes, her legs are broken. She’s very, very sassy. Very sassy. She has some attitude. But she’s also very sweet. Oz first discovers her in Chinatown and he sees her crying there and takes her in with Finley, Zach Braff’s character. It’s just a story where her, Finley and Oz are trying to go kill the Wicked Witch and that’s all I’m going to say.
How did the role come your way?
King: My mom got the script for it and I had an audition for it. I had a callback for a screentest where they were doing it on the set, filming. I met Sam, the director. It kind of came after me but I also came after it. I’m really happy that I get to work on it. I would have been so bummed if I didn’t get hired to work on it. I’m so glad I am! The set is so friendly and cool and I’m the only kid on set. It’s very different working with all adults. I have a swear jar so that, if they have a potty mouth, I make them pay. That’s what it’s like being on set with adults.
King: In the swear jar? I don’t know. I haven’t counted. But the piggy bank’s name is Dirty Word Deanna. I try to make people pay up as frequently as I can because she gets hungry.
Who swears the most?
King: That’s a really good question. I don’t know. There’s a lot of swearers. Sometimes they get off easy and they don’t pay but K.C. [Hodenfeld] has a down payment, so he’s good for awhile. He put in 20 bucks.
What are your favorites of the sets?
King: They’re all amazing sets. The circus scene. Glinda’s palace is awesome. The throne room to the Emerald City. Everything’s so amazing. They’re building a couple of sets right now. They’re actually building my village, Chinatown. It is really amazing. My teacher, Eva, was really excited when she found out that they’re using her china patterns on the teacups and stuff. She said, “Oh my gosh! That’s my china pattern at home!” But I don’t have a favorite set. All of them are so amazing and they’re building one where Oz meets Theodora right now so that’s going to be cool.
King: I hate it! (laughs) No, I like normal life but I will go crazy if I’m not working. I’ll say to my mom, “I’m going crazy! I’m going stir crazy!” I love my house. I love my family. I love my animals. Sometimes, I just want to work whether its on location here in Michigan or back in LA. I just want to work, work, work. It’s what I want to do with the rest of my life so, yes, I do go a little bit crazy when I’m not working.
You’ve got to feed the pig!
King: I do! I actually have a real pet pig so I miss her. Then I have three dogs and a fish.
What’s it like working with Sam?
King: He is awesome! He’s so nice and he is so smart. He’s so much fun to work with. I just love him. He’s awesome.
Does it seem like his inner child is on the surface?
King: He does seem like he’s having fun. He has fun with it and really thinks about it. This movie is really big and he never seems stressed. I was like, “How are you not stressed?” If I was in his position, I would be like, “Oh my god. What am I going to do next?” But he’s really mellow and calm and nice and really serene. It’s really great to have him as our director. He’s super fun to work with.
How is it balancing schoolwork with acting?
King: Well, I wake up and come in. I usually start off with school in my awesome school room. My on-set studio teacher and I decorated it and it’s so cool. It has a yellow brick road. It has trees. It’s colorful and pretty. I go to school and, after a couple of minutes or hours of school, I get called on set. I have to have three hours of school a day.
Is the China Girl’s voice a lot like your natural voice? Do you change your voice?
King: No, not really. She’s kind of tiny. She can’t have a deep voice. I just talk pretty much the same and people tell me, “Your voice is perfect for China Girl” and I’m like, “Thank you!”. So I don’t have to change my voice much for this.
King: I love Disneyland, but my favorite is California Adventure. I love the big rides. I love Tower of Terror, which I just went on a couple of weeks ago. I was so scared, but I had so much fun. I love California Screaming, soaring over California. I love Disneyland because the teacups are so awesome. But California Adventure is the best. So I am hoping they give me a pass!
Have you seen your action figure yet?
King: I don’t know but they do have a puppet for me. A marionette puppet. I’m not like a sock puppet. They’re putting my face on her little face. She’s about from here to to here. She’s really tiny. Phillip, the puppeteer, is so good at doing all the things. He has a string that he can pull to make her blink. He can make her move in all different ways. She can put her hand on her hip. She’s so cool, my puppet. She’s awesome.
How long have you been filmming?
King: I came here in June. I started in June in July and went home in August. Now I’m here till December. I came back in September.
King: Yeah, I do! Even though I’m not doing my own motions, I can add lines and adlib or take some away. I do it, Zach does it, Michelle does it, James does it, Mila does it. Everybody.
What are you going to be for Halloween?
King: That’s a great question! I’m going to be Lady Gaga.
Which Lady Gaga?
King: I’m not being any specific outfit, but my mom is helping me make my costume. Since she always has themes for her outfits, I’m sewing keys on my outfit. A bunch of different keys and locks. Halloween is the only day I can wear heels and my mom can’t say anything. So I’ve got heels and I’m wearing them!
So no meat costume?
King: No, that’s disgusting. If I did that, I would buy all toy meat. The rubber ones.
Oz the Great and Powerful opens on March 8th. For more from my set visit:
- 30 Things to Know About Sam Raimi’s Oz The Great and Powerful From Our Set Visit; Plus Video Blog Recap
- Sam Raimi Talks Pulling Material from Baum’s Books, Crafting the Look of Oz, Not Tarnishing the Original, & More on the Set of Oz The Great and Powerful
- Michelle Williams Talks Creating Her Own Glinda, Working with Sam Raimi, and More on the Set of Oz The Great and Powerful
- James Franco Talks Why He Signed on, His Reaction to Seeing the Yellow Brick Road, Plant Omens, and More on the Set of Oz The Great and Powerful
- Zach Braff Talks Doing Voice Recordings on Set, Working on a Large-Scale Epic, 3D Technology, and More on the Set of Oz The Great and Powerful