Set in an even more fantastical alternate universe (called O.Z. here, or Outer Zone), the re-imagining follows a modern-day Dorothy named DG (Zooey Deschanel) on her journey through the mystical, mythical Land of Oz. There she encounters a new kind of Wicked Witch in Azkadellia (played by Kathleen Robertson); the man without a brain, Glitch (Alan Cumming); tortured ex-cop Tin Man (Neal McDonough); and half-human/half-wolverine Raw (Raoul Trujillo).
The entire cast opened up about martial arts, choosing between Ginger and Mary Ann and their twisted portrayals of classic characters.
How does this “Oz” compare to the original movie? And was it difficult to take on such an iconic role?
Zooey Deschanel: I mean, I saw “The Wizard of Oz” when I was very young, but I wouldn’t even compare it. It’s completely going back to the original material and taking cues from a very different genre of film. I tried to approach it like it was an entirely new story.
Alan Cumming: This story is a classic story of people who go on a quest. They’re all looking for something, and they all believe when they get to this special place, they will find the answers. And, of course, what makes it such a beautiful story is that on the way, they realize that it’s not about the getting there; it’s about the going that is what’s going to give them the answers. They actually have all the answers within them. It’s really lovely to do a story that’s reiterating that message.
Alan, are you doing martial arts in this movie? The previews look very…physical.
AC: Of course. It’s well known I’m highly skilled in martial arts. [Laughs] Actually it’s often not me—it’s a really lovely stunt man called Rob. But my character is really interesting—he’s kind of obviously a little dopey because his brain has been removed. But he slowly starts to remember stuff. One of the things he remembers is he’s kind of light-of-foot and indeed kind of gets us out of a few scrapes [with] his skills.
Who is the hotter babe: The Wicked Witch or Dorothy?
Kathleen Robertson: (In a warning tone) Alan…
ZD: I think it’s like Ginger and Mary Ann.
AC: It’s like a psychological thing. I think Dorothy and the witch represent the good and the bad, the darkness and the light. Actually, what would be a good thing would be to have a combo. [Laughs]
This is definitely an edgier retelling—does DG have an edge now that we’ve never seen from Dorothy?
ZD: Definitely. I think she’s more “Indiana Jones” girlish, very modern. All the situations, I put myself in them and went like, How would I react if I was walking through a magical forest? I think making sure she was real at the core.
But you still manage to make her a sweet, relatable girl…
ZD: It was important to have somebody to be the touchstone character. Being that it’s a different world and pretty much the whole story takes place in this alternate reality, other-dimension kind of place, it was important to have somebody who was finding everything as crazy and strange as the audience would.
And Azkadellia—is she anything like the Wicked Witch we all love to hate?
KR: When I was offered the role, my first thought was, Oh my God, I’m about the embody this incredibly iconic villainess that people have such strong feelings about. [But] I kind of approached it from a very psychological way—why would someone be this way, this evil—as opposed to playing a broad idea of the bad, evil, Wicked Witch, if that makes sense.
What about Glitch, Tin Man and Raw? Are they human, or slightly electronic?
AC: Glitch is someone who was an adviser to Kathleen’s character [Azkadellia], the one who becomes the Wicked Witch. Because of his beliefs, he had his brain taken away, so that’s why he’s seeking his brain. Throughout the film, he begins to remember that he had a little more to do with the whole history of the O.Z. than he thought at first.
Neal McDonough: The Tin Man is completely human. He was a sheriff in the Outer Zone, and was then captured and put into this pod for eight years [to] watch [his] wife and son be murdered through this hologram. That was the torture that I was put through. And then I come out of it…I’m going to seek revenge.
Raoul Trujillo: Raw—all you have to do is look at any kind of aboriginal person on the planet who doesn’t [know] what it means to be sophisticated, evolved, any of that. But I bring a gift of telepathy because I feel through my heart.
The three-night Sci Fi original miniseries event “Tin Man” premieres Sunday, Dec. 2 at 9 p.m./8c. It plays for two hours each night on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.