In the movie, when Oscar Diggs and his flying monkey pal Finley happen upon the fragile town of teapots and teacups, they find it has been broken and devastated. They meet China Girl, and she joins them on their journey. China Girl seems fragile at first, and she is, but there's more to her character. Joey King compared herself to her characters saying, "She’s very sassy and has 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."
Here are some fun facts about China Girl and 13-year-old Joey King's experience on set we learned from our interview with Joey and other cast and crew members as well as the production notes for the film:
- Joey King plays two characters in the movie: a Kansas girl in a wheelchair who asks "Oz" to make her walk, and the China Girl. Joey can still see herself in the China Girl she voiced. She told us, "They filmed my face, and attached my expressions onto China Girl. So it was really like I was watching myself, kind of, but in an animated character."
- In the movie, China Girl is a CGI character, but the actors actually rehearsed with a life-size (18 inch) puppet of China Girl created by puppeteer Philip Huber. The puppet has 21 strings to allow enough movements to establish her character and elicit a more genuine performance from those who acted alongside her. Joey said of the puppet, "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."
- Joey spent part of her time on set working with the other actors, and part of the time in a sound booth recording the voice for China Girl. She still had fun while in the booth though. Here is what Joey told us about the experience:
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 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 Joey wasn't actually working on the movie, she told us that she spent her time roaming around the set and looking at the costumes:
When I wasn’t doing school, I was usually roaming around. The sets were the most amazing thing for me to see, ‘cause they were just 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. They were more, you know, detailed, and it was so cool for me.
- On the set, Joey created a "Swear Jar." Anyone who said a bad word had to add money to the jar. Who ended up putting in the most money? Joey's own mother! Joey donated the money in the jar to Meals on Wheels, a charity dear to Joey and her grandmother who volunteers there. "Doing the swear jar was kind of a funny thing, in a way," said Joey. "But also it was actually a really nice thing."