One of the greatest things about “Oz The Great and Powerful,” for me anyway, is seeing Michelle Williams play a role where she spends a good deal of time actually smiling.
If you knew her primarily from “Dawson’s Creek” in the early days, it would have been very hard to predict that she would eventually end up as one of the most acclaimed and interesting actresses working. The last decade or so has seen her deliver one great performance after another, though, and sitting down to talk to her about playing Glinda the good witch in “Oz” was a a genuine pleasure.
Before we started rolling, we talked a bit about Sarah Polley’s new documentary “Stories We Tell” and how seeing it changed my perceptions of “Take This Waltz,” the film that Polley made with Williams. She seemed delighted that I knew “Waltz” and loved it, and it was obvious as we spoke that she is a huge fan of Polley’s work.
Of all of the cast members I spoke with, I’d hazard a guess that Williams is the most hardcore of hardcore “Oz” fans in the bunch. She took the responsibility of playing Glinda very seriously, and we talked about how I heard a lot of Marilyn Monroe in the breathy little things she does with her voice. It makes sense that she wanted to find a way to do a stylized voice, but not just mimic that very particular and peculiar line delivery of Billie Burke, who was the original Glinda in the 1939 film.
We also talked about how uncommon it is, even in family films, to see a conclusion that does not hinge on killing the bad guy. Even in animated films these days, the endings often seem to be about how violence is the ultimate resolution to any situation, and when you see a film like “Oz” make the conscious decision not to resolve everything with bloodshed, it feels noteworthy. Williams is a parent of a very young kid, as I am, and as we talked about it, we were both excited by the choice.
Obviously, this was a short conversation, as all junket conversations are, but it was a real pleasure, and I can honestly say there are very few actors I look forward to seeing in each new film.
“Oz The Great and Powerful” opens everywhere tomorrow.