Sam Raimi got close to James Franco working on "Oz the Great and Powerful"

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A prequel to L. Frank Baum's novel "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" and the 1939 film adaptation, this 2013 3D fantasy adventure follows Oscar Diggs (James Franco), a small-time circus magician with dubious ethics, as he's whisked away from dusty Kansas to the vibrant Land of Oz. At first he thinks he's hit the jackpot-fame and fortune are his for the taking.
March 1st, 2013

Sam Raimi got closer than ''ever before'' to James Franco on the set of 'Oz the Great and Powerful'.

The successful filmmaker previously worked with the 34-year-old heartthrob when he directed James in his 'Spider-Man' trilogy from 2002 to 2007, but feels a lot closer to the actor now he isn't the villain of the film.

Speaking at the European premiere of 'Oz the Great and Powerful' at the Empire Cinema in London's Leicester Square on Thursday evening (28.02.13), Sam told BANG Showbiz: ''It was great working with James because we had made three 'Spider-Man' pictures together, but it was a very different experience because in those movies he plays Peter Parker's best friend [Harry Osborn], and eventually someone trying to kill Spider-Man.

''So I don't like guys trying to kill my hero, you know that really gets me mad. So I wasn't as close to him, I'm never as close to the villains in the picture.

''And now I was telling a story where you had to see it through James' eyes. He plays the Wizard and we got a lot more communicative and closer than ever before.''

The film follows circus magician Oscar Diggs as he journeys through the enchanted land of Oz trying to prove himself worthy of becoming Wizard of the land belonging to witches Evanora (Rachel Weisz), Theodora (Mila Kunis) and Glinda the Good Witch (Michelle Williams).

Although Sam recaptures scenes from the 1939 classic in his feature - such as the deadly poppy field and the magical Emerald City - the director wanted his story to focus more on the ''heart'' of the Wizard.

He explained: ''We tried to not recreate the original Victor Flemming classic 'The Wizard Of Oz' because it's my favourite movie of all time, and this movie is also based on [L.] Frank Baum's works, but it's really this journey that took place before 'The Wizard of Oz'.

''It's about who the wizard was back in Kansas, how he has a little bit of a selfish heart and how once he gets to the land of Oz that heart would be able to grow and how he became a full human being.''

Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz, James Franco and Michelle Williams joined Sam on the yellow brick road-style carpet last night.