In “Oz the Great and Powerful,” Michelle Williams takes on one of the most iconic screen characters in Hollywood history: Glinda the Good Witch, first seen in the 1939 film “The Wizard of Oz.” It’s not her first time tackling an icon — or even an icon popular with drag queens.
“The Wizard of Oz” has been very popular with the drag community. Have you given any thought at all to the idea of drag queens taking on your performance?
Yeah, baby! Yes, yes. Bring it on. I feel like they would, like, put a naughty under the nice. No, I would love to see that. And any chance to amass a bigger gay audience is awesome.
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Have you ever seen a drag interpretation of one of your roles?
Marilyn probably doesn’t count, but there’s clearly a lot out there. While I was making [“My Week With Marilyn”] I saw this drag performance of Marilyn on YouTube, and I had to shut it down within 10 seconds because I was like, “That motherf—er is better than me. That motherf—er! I will never match what he’s able to do.” [Laughs] He was just recreating all of her famous numbers to a T. But I can’t imagine many of my other characters. I can’t imagine Wendy from “Wendy and Lucy” is big on the drag circuit.
I could imagine someone out there doing an all-drag “Dawson’s Creek.”
Probably, I could see that. Or maybe like a “Meek’s Cutoff” thing, and it goes a little “Priscilla Queen of the Desert”?
One of of your co-stars said she avoided re-watching “The Wizard of Oz” so as to not be influenced by it. Was it the same for you?
No, I mean, I have a kid, so I’ve watched it a lot. I watched it as a child, and I’ve watched it passively as a grown-up, and I definitely watched it specifically in reference for this. But I also knew at the same time, Sam [Raimi] had been very specific in saying, “You’re not to re-create what you saw in the original.” Both because I think he didn’t feel like it was the right way to go and because it was, like, a rights issue. [Laughs]
It’s oddly refreshing to see you in “Oz,” a movie that’s so ...
Your films for the last few years have leaned toward the serious and dour, yes. Was this a conscious effort to get something a bit lighter on your filmography?
I mean, I never think, “Now it’s time to do something light.” But I did feel within my own soul, I felt like I’d had the marrow sucked out of me, probably especially with “My Week With Marilyn” just because it was so difficult. The core of who she was was very affecting for me to live inside of, so just personally I was feeling more open to doing something that didn’t come at a personal cost. For me, I never feel like, “Oh, I have so many things to choose from and I just can’t pick. There’s just so many great options.” It’s kind of like desert, desert, desert, desert, oasis! So when that comes along, when I have that feeling from reading a script, whether it’s big or small or light or dark, it’s really more about if I see an outline of a character that I want to fill in.
I’m surprised to hear that you’d have so much of a desert as far as scripts. I’d assume that you’re getting sent all of the best stuff out there.
I haven’t worked since I made this movie. I haven’t worked in over a year. It was a conscious choice, I definitely wanted to take some time off. This was a long movie to make, and I like my life and it takes a lot to take me away from my family. But that choice wasn’t ... constantly tested, for better or worse.