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Scrubs star Zach Braff talks the timelessness of Oz By Richard Crouse Metro Canada March 6, 2013

finley-oz-the-great-and-powerfulYears ago I asked one of the original Wizard of Oz munchkins to explain the movie’s enduring appeal.

“Everybody can enjoy it,” said Karl Slover who was just two feet tall when he played the first trumpeter. “There’s no filthy language in it. I don’t see no bikinis! No nudist colonies! Kids can watch it and parents don’t have to worry because there’s nothing bad in there.”

I recently asked Zach Braff the same question in an interview to promote Oz the Great and Powerful, a prequel to the most beloved movie of all time.

“It reminds us of our childhood,” says the former Scrubs star, “and it reminds us of this magical place where crazy things happen. It is innocent and it is pure and it is amazing that it holds up. It was made in 1939, most kids don’t see other movies made in 1939.”

The new flick, co-staring James Franco, Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz and Michelle Wiliams, is a state-of-the-art film, but it’s something that has been gestating for some time.

“I heard that Walt Disney always wanted to make an Oz movie,” he says. “There’s 13 books, so why not go back to that world and tell it from a 2013 perspective.”

The new film echoes the original, starting with black and white scenes shot in Kansas before moving to the eye-popping fantasy world of Oz. The movie’s modern twist is the addition of high tech tricks to make your eyes and ears dance. Braff calls the film’s visual and audio tweaks — increasing the depth of the 3D and adding in surround sound for the Oz scenes, for example — “Sam Raimi at his finest.”

Raimi, the director behind the Evil Dead movies and a little franchise called Spider-Man, was the big reason Braff signed on to the project.

“I heard Sam wanted to meet me in his office. That’s a good call to get.”

Braff, who made his directorial debut on the 2004 indie film Garden State, calls Raimi a “wonderful mentor who let me watch this whole process.” Even on his days off the actor would go to the set to learn about big budget filmmaking from watching the old pro work on Oz’s enormous sets.

“Sam’s the biggest mensch on earth. The guy’s a saint. He’s too good to be true.”

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