Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Weisz relished powerful role in Oz

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Rachel Weisz, left, Mila Kunis, in Oz the Great and Powerful.

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Rachel Weisz, left, Mila Kunis, in Oz the Great and Powerful.

Pasadena, Calif. -- Glamour has two meanings. One refers to a kind of rare beauty often applied to particularly beautiful film stars.

The other definition refers to magic, and the enchantment of fairies.

Both qualities come together for actress Rachel Weisz in her role as the witch Evanora in Oz the Great and Powerful.

The fantasy prequel to The Wizard of Oz hearkens back to old-school Hollywood glamour in the way director Sam Raimi photographs his women characters. And curiously, this is no more evident than in the case of the film's more wicked witches. Mila Kunis and Weisz are especially radiant, wickedness notwithstanding.

For Weisz, getting Evanora together was a production unto itself.

"The hair and makeup and costume took about three-and-a-half hours to put together," she says. "On The Bourne Legacy, it took about six minutes -- hair, makeup, put on jeans and a T-shirt and that was it. So this was creating a whole character visually."

Of course, Evanora is somewhat removed from the beleaguered scientist Weisz played in Bourne. But even so, she came to the part without any of the baggage from The Wizard of Oz, in which her character is never really seen (except perhaps for her feet).

"I had total freedom," Weisz says. "Although obviously there's a script, there were words that she had to say and that's why I wanted to play her because I liked her, how she was written in black and white."

The choice may also have to do with the strong feminine presence throughout the film, despite its roguish male title character, played by James Franco. Weisz, who is married to actor Daniel Craig, credits her director for that quality.

"Sam's got a very strong wife," she says. "I think he likes women in a very good way and so did (Oz author) L. Frank Baum.

"I haven't read all the books but I know he was part of the suffrage movement and he wrote these incredible characters for women over 100 years ago. There's a whole bunch of girl characters who are extraordinary and powerful."

"Not only did he write powerful women, he wrote women with powers."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 13, 2013 c6

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Updated on Thursday, June 13, 2013 at 11:30 AM CDT: Adds photo, changes headline

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