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Interview: Mila Kunis

12th March 2013

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Mila Kunis will not be starring in 50 Shades of Grey. Really, really she won’t. No one appears to believe her, but she would like to make this clear. “Gosh,” she says. “This 50 Shades of Grey thing is just never going to leave is it? No, you will not see me in 50 Shades of Grey. I’m sorry!”

That cleared up (almost), we move on to the subject of our conversation, which is Disney’s latest big budget CGI offering, Oz the Great and Powerful – a prequel to the 1939 film, telling the story of how the Wonderful Wizard of Oz came to be the ruler of his kingdom. The film stars Rachel Weisz, James Franco, Michelle Williams and Zach Braff alongside Kunis, and is directed by Sam Raimi – a stellar line up, undoubtedly. Getting involved, Kunis says, “was a no-brainer.”

Kunis plays young witch Theodora, who undergoes a transformation on various levels after encountering The Wizard (James Franco), seconds after he has crash-landed into her homeland of Oz in a hot air balloon.

The fantasy genre is not something that she has strayed much into before – so, without giving too much away, how was it to play the ‘ugly duckling’ for a change?

She describes the experience as “really great” and “incredibly freeing”, adding that it was the first time in her life where putting on a costume hugely changed the way she viewed her character. Being blinkered as a result of Theodora’s flashing contact lenses, she says, gave her the feeling that “if I can’t see you, you can’t see me – I can’t do whatever I want! It kind of allowed me to not worry about what people thought.”

She describes being “given a character with the most theatrical, fantastical arc you could ever imagine, and there are no rules against it, there are no boundaries, formula to follow – it was just fun, and I knew I had Sam to protect me and steer me in the right direction so I felt very safe... but I will not be in the 50 Shades of Grey film.”

You get the impression that she has been asked this question more than a couple of times, and that it is starting to grate just a little bit.

So, back to Oz. Kunis’s Theodora is better known as the Wicked Witch of the West in the original film – albeit in her 2013 guise she is much younger, entirely unjaded and, most importantly, not evil.  How was it to take on a character that has been so well known for so many years – from her evil cackle to her green skin to her army of flying baboons – and make her someone people might sympathise with? She must feel a terrifying level of responsibility...

“I didn’t want to take anything away from the character that was so iconically created,” Kunis says. “What I was given was the gift of a backstory, and humanising her in a way.

“She’s just a girl who gets her heart broken, doesn’t know how to deal with pain, and takes the easy way out. It’s an emotional transformation that just so happens to be mired with a physical one. She became human to me.

“Everything else was secondary – she was just a woman scorned who happens to know how to fly. I never dared to try to emulate something that’s so beyond iconic.”

Considering that she is better known for playing, well, humans (aside being the voice of Meg in Family Guy), the amount of flying Kunis does in this film is impressive. Some might be surprised to find that she performed her own stunts, especially since the vast majority of them required her to be wearing a corset and heels whilst whizzing through Oz on a broomstick – although meeting her she hardly seems like the kind of actress who would demand a stunt double.

This part of the filming, she says, “was fine. The hardest thing about wires is the amount of time you spend on them, and so being wired is not hard, being flung 35 feet is not hard, 17 hours into your working day? It’s just a little painful. But any time anything malfunctions, it is all computerised and the whole system shuts down. So that’s that.”

Finally, if she was a witch, how would she use her powers?  “If I could cast a spell on somebody, what would it be?” She ponders the question. “I would cast a spell on Sam Raimi to hire me for every movie he ever does!”

Considering the success of the film on its opening weekend in the US (grossing $80.3m and becoming the third best March opening ever), it seems like this spell might very well come true.

Oz the Great and Powerful is in cinemas now.

Read our review here

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