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A Wrinkle In Time: Gugu Mbatha-Raw on Ava DuVernay, Diversity and Science (Exclusive Interview)

Gugu Mbatha-Raw is Mrs. Murry in Disney’s A WRINKLE IN TIME.

Dr. Kate Murry is the bedrock of the family.

After Mr. Murry’s disappearance, she became the primary figure into Meg’s and Charles Wallace’s life before they partake a grand adventure across the universe in A Wrinkle in Time.

Directed by Ava DuVernay, the anticipated Disney’s A Wrinkle in Time is the film adaptation of the beloved children’s book written by Madeleine L’Engle. The film stars Storm Reid, Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, Levi Miller, Deric McCabe, Chris Pine, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Zach Galifianakis and Michael Pena.

LRM had a sit-down one-on-one interview with actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw on her attraction to playing a mother and scientist in this beloved children’s story. She also discussed the diversity, Oprah and most importantly, Ava DuVernay as a director.

A Wrinkle in Time is now playing in theaters nationwide today.

Read our interview transcript below.

LRM: I’m very excited for A Wrinkle In Time for you. Why did you want to do this movie?

Gugu Mbatha-Raw: Y’know, I didn’t know the book. It was really Ava DuVernay got me on board. I was so excited to work with her. I’m such a fan of her work of Selma and 13th. Her energy is so dynamic. She is so passionate. She has such a strong vision for this film. It’s how she wanted to tell this story with Storm [Reid] at the center.

I knew that Oprah [Winfrey] was cast already. The message of the movie was so heartfelt and empowering to young women. I just wanted to be a part of it.

LRM: Did you eventually picked up the book?

Gugu Mbatha-Raw: I did. [Laughs] First, I read Jennifer Lee’s script. Then I went back and read the book. Wow! I didn’t know on how I missed it the first time around. In the U.K., it wasn’t available when I was growing up. I’m excited for this film to get a whole new generation of children involved reading in a book too.

LRM: Now they kept your character pretty close to the book for the movie, right?

Gugu Mbatha-Raw: Yeah! We called her Dr. Kate Murry. In the book, she’s often referred to as Mrs. Murry. I think Ava was keen to update her to the twenty-first century that she’s a doctor in her own right—not only defined as marriage to her husband. She is a scientist. She is a pioneer in astrophysics as well. They are intellectual equals, which is the dynamic we see in their relationship.

We had a relatively few scenes to establish this marriage. It’s because Chris [Pine’s] character is absent from the home for a long time. It was also great to play a mom for the first time in a story that is such an epic adventure.

LRM: Well, since you mentioned it that you’ve played a mom for the first time—how was it playing a mom to Storm?

Gugu Mbatha-Raw: Storm is my hero. She’s was so inspiring when I first met Ava. I said to her that I’ve never played a mom before and I don’t have kids. I’m not sure if I’m able to pull this off. Then I saw a picture of Storm. [Chuckles] Oh, my gosh. I could exactly see myself in her. There weren’t really big budget Disney films [with characters] that looked like me and Storm when I was growing up. I am very excited to be a part of this cultural change.

Storm is very grounded, talented, sweet and authentic young woman. I’m very excited for her career and for the world to be introduced to her in this movie. She’s incredible. She will have a very bright future ahead of her.

LRM: You had a little scene in which you were coddling little Charles Wallace and singing to him with a lullaby. I didn’t know you could sing.

Guga Mbatha-Raw: Awww. Yeah, I’ve sung a little bit in a couple of movies like Beyond the Lights where I play a popstar. This is very, very light singing. It’s not really about the song. It’s really about the love between of the mother and son dynamic there.

That song in the movie is also sung by Sade. It’s a huge thing for Ava to have Sade come in for the movie. Sia also has a song in the movie. There are so much beautiful epic movie in this film too. I can’t wait to hear the soundtrack. [Laughs]

LRM: You must be song proud that you actually sang that, right?

Gugu Mbatha-Raw: Yeah, yeah! It’s nice. It’s a small moment. But, it’s an intimate moment.

LRM: How was it to be a wife to a very handsome Chris Pine?

Gugu Mbatha-Raw: Oh! It’s a hard job, but someone has got to do it. [Laughs] Obviously, I’ve known Chris Pine’s work for the long time. It was really fun to be able to work with him. We got into our scientist research zone. We got to go to JPL and be able to talk to the consultant for the movie like Stephon Alexander, who wrote The Jazz of Physics.

It was really fun. We only had a couple of scenes really to establish this lived-in marriage. But, he’s such an intelligent and present actor. It’s really fun working with him.

LRM: Tell us the truth—what do you really know about astrophysics?

Gugu Mbatha-Raw: What do I really know about astrophysics and quantum entanglement? [Laughs] It’s funny as well. We were laughing earlier. You do these research for these movies. Obviously, as an actor, you dipped your toe into the new world.

Of course, I have a huge respect for those who go into this science world. It’s not really my comfort zone. [Laughs] It’s nice to have a chance to be in awe of something and learn a little bit. No, it’s a lot of acting. [Laughs]

LRM: When Ava recruited you to be a part of this film and you found out about the rest of this cast—how proud are you about this diversity?

Gugu Mbatha-Raw: So excited! I think I already had an inkling, because of Ava’s intention with the piece. You look at this cast. You look at this poster. Oprah, Mindy [Kaling] and Reese [Witherspoon]. It’s such a dynamic group of people from diverse backgrounds that we live in today.

LRM: While watching the movie, I was wondering about your character. Your character lost her husband and then in the middle of the night that she lost her daughter too. Have you thought about that? What kind of mother/wife I am for seemingly losing family members suddenly? [Laughs]

Gugu Mbatha-Raw: Oh! [Laughs] It’s not like she misplaced them. [Laughs] It’s not like she left them back in the supermarket or something. It’s the idea of tessering. For them, they’ve been away on this huge adventure. For me, I’ve been upstairs and maybe in my lab. It’s only for a second and it didn’t seem like they’ve been away for that long.

I think there’s a huge romance in the idea of holding on to hope and your love returning. I really sort of respond to that epic romantic reunion.

LRM: Earlier you mentioned Oprah and everybody on this project is talking about Oprah. You didn’t have any scenes with Oprah.

Gugu Mbatha-Raw: No.

LRM: Do you felt bad about that?

Gugu Mbatha-Raw: [Laughs] Fortunately, I got to meet Oprah a couple of years ago. She was a fantastic cheerleader I did for a movie called Belle. She invited us to her house to celebrate the film. I had my Oprah moments!

Obviously, I was jealous that I didn’t get to go to New Zealand. I would’ve loved to be on set with all of the Mrs. Oprah is a wonderful person. Even though we didn’t have any scenes together, it’s great to know that she is in my life.

LRM: It was quite interesting to sit in that press conference. I was hoping that she would jump off the couch and announced that everyone in the room got a car.

Gugu Mbatha-Raw: [Laughs] Everyone is tessering to New Zealand after this.

LRM: Are you a fan of sci-fi and fantasy?

Gugu Mbatha-Raw: Clearly! Here I am!! I grew up with films like The NeverEnding Story and reading books like The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia. For any child, fantasy is a wonderful escapism. There are all these hidden messages in there. It’s so great to go to another world. Life is tough growing up at school and going through puberty. It’s great to have fantasy worlds to escape to.

LRM: Thank you very much.

Gugu Mbatha-Raw: It’s nice meeting you.

A Wrinkle in Time is playing nationwide in theaters today.

Source: Exclusive to LRM

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