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‘Oz’ actor to visit Charlestowne 18 for meet-and-greet

Published: Friday, March 8, 2013 6:40 p.m. CDT • Updated: Saturday, March 9, 2013 6:51 a.m. CDT

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ST. CHARLES – To celebrate the release of Disney’s “Oz: The Great and Powerful,” one of the film’s actors will be popping by the Classic Cinemas Charlestowne 18 theater as part of a promotional tour for the film.

Actor and professional wrestler Jordan Rafael, who played one of 16 munchkins known as the “stuntchkins” in the film, will visit the theater for a meet-and-greet and autograph signing from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, March 9.

Based on the Oz novels by L. Frank Baum, “Oz: The Great and Powerful” is the prequel to Baum’s “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” which was adapted into MGM’s 1939 musical classic, “The Wizard of Oz.”

Upon being cast as a munchkin in the prequel, Rafael’s first order of business, he said, was to watch “The Wizard of Oz.”

“To tell you the truth, before I got cast in [“Oz”], I hadn’t seen the original movie,” he admits. “So, when I got a call for this movie, I was like, ‘Oh my God; I have to see the original movie and see what part I’m doing.’”

Rafael said after having viewed “The Wizard of Oz” he understood its iconic status, adding that being a part of the prequel to such a classic film in American cinema is “an honor.”

The “stuntchkin” part, which Rafael and 15 others play in the film, simply translates to “the little people who do the stunts,” he said, adding that – in the prequel – they do more than just sing and dance.

“It was a lot of fun, and I got to work with a lot of little people, like me,” he said.

The film, directed by Sam Raimi, stars a bevy of familiar faces including actors James Franco, Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz, Michelle Williams and Zach Braff, to name a few.

Rafael said working alongside Kunis, who plays the witch Theodora, and Franco, who takes the title role as Oscar Diggs, was “a lot of fun.”

“I actually thought Mila [Kunis] was going to be stuck up because she’s so famous, but she was amazing – very down to earth,” Rafael said.

After the autograph signing and meet-and-greet, Rafael will join fans for a viewing of “Oz.”

“I’m very excited to watch it,” Rafael said. “I think it’s going to be a great movie, because it’s a prequel for [“The Wizard of Oz”] and everybody loves the Oz [films]. It’s a lot of action, comedy and drama, but mostly its a family picture … and it has a lot of special effects.”

The prequel tells the story of Oscar Diggs, a small town magician, who is thrust into the magical world of Oz, where he encounters three witches who are skeptical of his reputation as a great wizard. As Oscar becomes more entangled in Oz’s web of problems, he must decipher good from evil and ultimately save the land.

Fans attending the meet-and-greet event Saturday are invited to bring cameras for photo opportunities with Rafael.

For more information and showtimes, visit classiccinemas.com.

Classic Cinemas Charlestowne 18 is located within the Charlestowne Mall, 3740 E. Main St., in St. Charles.

About Jordan Rafael Rafael, 28, has intermittently worked the TV and film circuit for years, acting in movies like “Christmas in Wonderland” (2009) and episodes of television shows such as “Bones” and “Full Throttle Saloon.”

When not traveling the U.S. acting or wrestling professionally, Rafael plays basketball and soccer for The Statesman, a team that competes in the World Dwarf Games.

He is also involved with the Coalition for Dwarf Advocacy, a charity dedicated to the betterment of individuals with short stature, according to a news release.

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