Fresh from her acclaimed turn in “Black Swan,” Mila Kunis now plays the beautiful, innocent witch Theodora, who is easily manipulated by both her powerful sister Evanora (Rachel Weisz) and the ever-so-charming Oscar (James Franco) in Walt Disney Pictures’ 3D fantasy adventure“Oz the Great and Powerful.”
“Theodora is a good witch when we first meet her,” notes director Sam Raimi about the character. “When Oscar first gets to the Land of Oz, he meets her and is smitten by her beauty. She is innocent and has the good will of the people at heart, then is easily manipulated by James’ character. At this point, Oscar is a great manipulator and a selfish flirt. He woos and romances her, then leaves her be and breaks her heart.”
“Theodora is a really nice, sweet, naive witch who truly wants to bring peace to the land,” Kunis elaborates. “She is a girl who desperately wants to believe in good and believe in the betterment of society, the betterment of the people and betterment of the world. She is also in so much denial of the bad that she doesn’t even think it exists.
“There’s a prophecy that the previous king predicted on his deathbed saying that this man would come and save the Land of Oz,” the actress details further about her character. “She sees this balloon drop from the sky and on the balloon it says ‘The Great and Powerful Oz’. Without a doubt in her mind, she believes that this is the great and powerful wizard that is coming to save the Land of Oz from the Wicked Witch.”
“When first writing the character of Theodora, I wanted her to be between Glinda and Evanora while being pulled by both sides,” screenwriter Mitchell Kapner relates. “When we first meet her, she loves her older sister, but she is also fond of goodness, which Glinda represents.
“Theodora is someone who’s innocent in a way,” Kapner continues in describing the character and how he developed her backstory that is not in the Baum books. “There is a line where she says ‘no one’s ever asked me to dance before.’ She is very innocent and protected in a lot of ways.”
“Theodora’s my younger sister who’s good, but also has a streak of wickedness in her because she’s my sister,” Weisz chimes in about the dynamic of the character. “I try to seduce her over to the dark side through different events, which I manipulate because I need her on my side. If I can get Theodora on my side, it would be two against one and I could then beat Glinda, the Good Witch.”
In choosing Kunis for the signature role, Raimi explains that he saw her in two very different films that cemented his decision to cast her in the role of Theodora. “I saw Mila Kunis in ‘Forgetting Sarah Marshall’ and she was very sweet. She’s adorable and really funny with a great sense of humor. I knew when I saw that picture that she was a great actress who could play the innocent side of Theodora. When I saw the brilliant movie ‘Black Swan,’ I also saw the darker side of her, a streak of ‘witchiness’ that represented the other side of what I needed for the portrayal of Theodora. So, between those two performances, she showed me that she had everything that she needed for this part.”
Kunis admits that she had some trepidation when she was approached about the role. “I mean it was Sam Raimi first and ‘Oz The Great and Powerful’ in the same sentence. It wasn’t so much intriguing as it was frightening to me, and that’s the truth.”
Despite her reservations, Kunis decided to take a meeting with director Sam Raimi. “I went to meet Sam and what was supposed to be a thirty-minute meet ended up being like four hours long. We broke down the character and the script and grounded everything in reality, which was incredibly comforting to me.”
Kunis adds, “What I think intrigued me about it was the unknown. I’ve never done anything remotely close to this. In saying that, you have to challenge yourself, and I felt safe in the challenge because I was surrounded by people whom I respected so much—Sam first and foremost.”
Opening across the Philippines on Thursday, March 7 in IMAX 3D, Digital 3D and regular theaters, “Oz The Great and Powerful” is distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures International through Columbia Pictures