Friday, August 10, 2012

Interview with Marie Rizza

It's Friday, Friday! 

This week I had the pleasure to interview Marie Rizza, who is playing the Wicked Witch of the West in the upcoming independent film L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. So, we are technically co-stars. Okay, let's go!

You obviously have some pretty big shoes to fill here. Margaret Hamilton's portrayal of the Wicked Witch in the 1939 movie is probably the most well-known. How did her performance and portrayal of the character influence yours?

I hope it didn't influence mine at all. My portrayal came from reading the script and then asking myself questions about the character described there.

Would you consider the 1939 movie a childhood favorite?

Yes and no. I was fascinated by the movie but I was terrified of the Wicked Witch. When I was about 9 or 10, I attempted to bring friends together to put on a production of it at a local theater. I was going to be Dorothy. I had costumes in mind and rehearsals set up. Of course, it all was pretty overwhelming and I let it go. I used to love imitating the Lion and letting all my breath out when I said, "Courage" in that way he does.

Did you read any of the original Oz movies prior to filming the movie? 

I had read the original to my son and he has loved the story and MGM movie ever since. He's not afraid of the Wicked Witch like I was, at least, he's not anymore. Also, Sean lent me a copy of the Marvel edition and I have read much of that. I watched a lot of clips about Baum on YouTube, as well, just for fun.

How did you get cast in the movie? What was the audition process like? 

I heard about the movie from a friend and got Sean's contact information. He sent me a Wicked Witch scene and one of the good witch's scene. I came by at my lunch hour and after prepping in my truck, scribbling things on the script that I wanted to remember to do in person. It was great fun. It's fun to be wicked and it was fun to play the loopy, quirky, good witch, too.

How long did it take to get the make-up and prosthetic and all of that on when you were filming?

I think probably about five or ten minutes. Of course, then there was a lot of re-applying and re-attaching as I literally came unglued. Lots of lint made its way to my fingers and my teeth would often pop off and I would wear them clicking against my actual teeth. 

You and the other cast members filmed your scenes separately. Was it difficult to try to interact with something or someone that wasn't tangible on set? 

Surprisingly, no. It looks really amazing when you see the finished product and it's difficult to believe that the other characters weren't there on set with me. I am a very cerebral person, though, so if someone is in my imagination, it's not difficult for me to act as if they are right there.

Would you do another Oz movie if the opportunity was presented?

Sure, I think I would. The Oz story presents some very beautiful ideas about life and how our perception can change reality. It's worth telling over and over again.

There are a lot of Oz movies coming out within the next year or so. Why do you think that Oz fans will enjoy this interpretation of the story?

It's difficult to imagine anyone more passionate about this story than Sean and Clayton. The seeds of this movie were sown in their childhood and their dream is becoming reality. You can't beat the commitment and energy they have put into this film.

In one sentence, how would you describe your experience working on this movie? 

It's been a crazy, journey with incredibly talented individuals who I hope will be lifelong friends and a great opportunity to be purely and unforgivably, evil.

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