I loved Joey King in “Beezus and Ramona” and very much enjoyed her performance as China Girl and the girl in the wheelchair in “Oz the Great and Powerful,” which is out on DVD and Blu-Ray this week. She talked to me about walking on the Yellow Brick Road and what it was like to play a girl made out of porcelain.
You played two different but parallel characters in this film. How did you work on that?
I thought it was really cool that I got to play two different characters that were connected, like the original “Wizard of Oz,” where there was a connection between the characters in Kansas and the characters in Oz. Sam [Raimi, the director] was so great. He really wanted me to bring my own perspective, flair, and personality to the roles. Wheelchair girl was a little more vulnerable and sad and you don’t see much of her. With China Girl, I didn’t want her just to be this delicate, fragile little creature. I wanted her to have some sass and feistiness about her. When you’re fragile like that, you need a little bit of that spice!
Zach Braff and me were in this little booth together and we got to read lines together and have the cameras on our faces so they could use that in the animation. But we got to be on the set and interact with the other actors more than you’d think, getting to act with them and too them. They used motion capture to film our faces and get our reactions. So we could be on set a lot of the time. Sam really wanted us to interact with each other so we could get a nice clean performance.
The set looked really magical on screen. What was it like in person?
Of course there is that blue screen and green screen part of it but they built so much of it. The Emerald City set was amazing, the Yellow Brick Road, Porcelain Town, the forest — it was so beautiful and magical. It was amazing — the castle! I can’t even describe how beautiful it was. Oh, my gosh, me and my mom got so excited when we walked on the Yellow Brick Road. I was so privileged to be a part of that.
If you could bring one piece of the set home with you, what would it be?
At the end of the shoot, everyone got a little piece of the Yellow Brick Road, engraved with “Oz the Great and Powerful,” so that was really nice!
What made you decide that you wanted to act?
I was four when I started. My older sisters were in acting and of course I wanted to be just like them! We put on plays together and I did commercials. It’s what I want to do for the rest of my life and I’ve always wanted to do it. It’s my passion!
What was the biggest challenge?
To convey what the character is feeling and the emotions through the voice alone. You have to show the character is confused or scared or happy through your voice instead of with your face and body.
What’s the best advice you got about acting?
Never get it get to your head and always stay humble. Don’t get discouraged from all the rejection. You have to keep going and pursue your dreams.
And what do you want people to talk about when they see this movie?
The importance of friendship and staying close to people. Family really matters — Oz creates his own family in this story. And I want people to think it’s the most magical thing they’ve ever seen!