13-year-old Joey King makes us proud. We don’t know her, we’re not related to her, and we’ve only been in the same room with her twice, but still she has such a wonderful spirit, such fabulous enthusiasm, and such a sweet and smart nature, it’s hard not to feel a bond with her. And her role as China Girl in Oz the Great and Powerful, fills us with joy. She’s adorable, funny, and totally fun and we got a chance to sit down with the young star and talk about Oz, her career and her on set swear jar!
Check out our interview below:
How did you get involved with the project?
I auditioned for it, and I really loved it. It was so exciting for me, and magical, ‘cause I’m a huge fan of the original movie. And I went to the screen test, I got to meet Sam there. And it was just amazing. And I wanted to be a part of it really badly because it seemed like such a fun thing to do, and it was just a breathtaking movie.
Were any of the actresses like your mom on set?
You know, uh, Michelle Williams is more like my mom or more like my sister. Michelle has a daughter Matilda and she wanted to know things like what age I got my phone, how old do you have to be to wear heels? So she was asking me a bunch of things. And one time when she asked me, “how old were you when you got your phone? ‘Cause I don’t want to give Matilda a phone too early or too late. ” And I got my phone at 10-years-old. She goes,” ten, really! That’s early!” I’m just like, “no it’s not!”
Do you have a China Girl doll yet?
I’m working on getting it. I’m almost there. I really want one because she’s so cute, and I think it’d be really fun to show my family.
What did you think of your finished character when you saw the movie for the first time?
When I saw the movie – it was at the premier – that was the first time I’d seen it. I had only seen about 20 minutes of it before. But it was really, it was really exciting for me, because I got to play two characters. I played a little girl in a wheel chair in Kansas, and then I played China Girl in the Land of Oz. So it was really cool to see how everything came together, and how they did China Girl, ‘cause what they did was they used CGI technology, and they filmed my face, and attached my expressions onto China Girl. So it was like I was watching myself kind of but in an animated character.
Do you feel like it was easy getting into the character?
I think that it was, it was, ‘cause there’s parts I’ve done before where it’s very difficult to get into that mode, and you have to be very different than yourself. But, you know, I am always up for a challenge, and I love those kind of things, but this one was a little bit more close to my personality. She’s very sassy and had a lot of personality. She’s very energetic, and she’s a little, not that I’m saying I am, but she’s just a little bit manipulative, in a way, but I pull pranks on my sister, so I can’t say that I’m not.
What was your favorite part about the movie?
There’s so many great parts about filming that movie, ‘cause it was just really exciting for me. You know? ‘Cause I love the original, and I just loved everything about the script. One of my favorite parts was just getting to work with everyone, like James, Mila, Zach, Michelle, and Sam Raimi is an amazing director, an amazing person, and I love the way he works. He’s very precise, and he catches every little detail. But it makes all the difference. He let us really play around with it. And that made it just feel really more natural. And also the cast, I was, like I said, Michelle’s like a mom, Mila’s like a sister to me, Zach is like a brother to me, and James is always teasing me on set. And he’s like a brother to me, too. So I love them all.
What advice do you have to other kids that want to get involved in acting?
You know, my advice to them is, ‘cause when I started doing this since I was four-years-old, and I’m I have 13 right now. But it took a while, you know, to actually get where I am. And it’s really exciting now that I am here because it was a lot of rejection, and a lot of auditioning, and getting so close, but not close enough to where you actually get it. I never gave up, ‘cause I am here, and that’s my advice to everyone, to never give up, because you never know when, when it can happen.
Did you get to hang out with the puppet (the puppet of China Girl) much?
Yeah, I got to be on set a lot, which was really cool. What they did was they filmed my face in the booth. Zach and I were in the same booth together, we got to go on set a lot. The puppeteer, Phillip Huber, he was amazing. She (China Girl) had so many strings on her, and he knew what every one worked, and it was so cool to watch. There was a string where she could blink and where she could move her arms. So I got to hang out with her a lot. It was almost like she was a real person. I forgot that she was just a puppet. That was really exciting and neat.
How do you balance your work with being a teenager?
Well, you know, a lot of people ask me that, and they’re like, “how do you, how do you balance it because, you know, it must be hard being, doing this work and stuff”, and you know, it’s actually a lot of fun for me to come here and do this kind of thing. It’s exciting for me. I love going away and filming, ‘cause I usually have to travel. And when I come home, I get to see my friends, and I get to hang out with them, and do fun things. This is what I love to do, it’s part of who I am and I love it.
What is it like being a role model for other kids who are watching your career?
It’s kind of cool to see that kids look up to me, and how they admire my work and my personality, and I think that’s really, really neat. I get to do these kinds of charities, and I get to share these things that I do and let kids know that it’s fun to do these kinds of things. It’s fun to do charity, and you always have to stay involved with the world.
It’s exciting for me, and it’s also, sometimes it’s a little bit of a challenge as well. But mostly it’s more fun. But the reason why it’s a challenge sometimes is because I’m not like a normal teenager, you know? I love hanging out with my mom. But, you know, I just, I love it, and I think it’s really fun. I love letting kids know that there’s more than just sitting at home on your computer and doing things like that.
Can you tell us about the swear jar?
Yeah! Yes! I did a swear jar Oz the Great and Powerful. But you know what? My mom was the one who put the most money in it. Which was funny because she swears more than the cast and crew. Everyone had to be careful, but you know, it’s fine. It’s kind of funny when they swear, but I was like this is a good thing. ‘Cause, you know, I didn’t, I didn’t keep the money. I donated to Meals on Wheels, which is a charity that my grandma volunteers for, and I go and deliver with her a lot. It’s where you deliver meals to elderly people who can’t get out of their home. So I got to do that for.
Who started the swear jar?
My teacher Eva. She was my teacher on Oz the Great and Powerful. We decided, okay, let’s do this. This is gonna raise money for the Meals on Wheels. She bought me a piggy bank, and I painted it and her name was like Swearetta or something. So I just brought her around on set when somebody swore. The first assistant director, Casey, he put a down payment of 20 dollars so he could swear 20 times and he wouldn’t have to pay.
What was the most challenging thing for you about being on set?
We were filming this movie for six months, which is longer than anything… usually, it’s just two to three months. I wasn’t there the whole time. I was, I was home for one of those months, but one of the most challenging things for me was that I wasn’t on set the whole time, you know? ‘Cause I was on set a majority of the time, but when I had to go back in that little booth, it wasn’t as fun as it was being on set. But at the same time, it was kind of fun because James and everyone could hear us through our, like, little headphones. We spoke in the microphone and they could hear us. So Zach and I were always, like, “James, listen to your conscience.” So, we would kind of mess with him, and got in their head. So that was fun, but it was also one of the most challenging things, ‘cause I love being on set with the other guys.
When you were not doing your voices, would you run around on set and explore?
Yeah. You know, ‘cause when I wasn’t doing school, I was usually roaming around. But the sets were the most amazing thing for me to see, ‘cause they were just, they were so big, and detailed, and so I just walk on them, and it’s like, “whoa! This is real! This is real life!” And it was really cool for me because I loved the original movie, and the sets were very similar, but more.
I would roam around, and run to the wardrobe department, and the hair department, especially the wardrobe department. All the costumes were crazy! The Wicked Witch! Glenda’s! So that was really cool.
What was your favorite character other than your own?
Definitely Finley. Finley was so cute! In the movie he’s so funny. And you know? I like that Finley and China Girl kinda bring a certain humor and light to (the movie). It really, like, lightens the movie up, and I love that. And Finley is definitely, hands down my favorite character because he’s so funny. Zach was sitting behind me in, at the premier, and we were laughing together. I really like those two characters, Finley and China Girl. But Finley’s my favorite.
Photo Source: Top Photo by Jeanne Segar others from Walt Disney Studios.