I attended the #WrinkleInTimeEvent on behalf of Disney and ABC in Los Angeles 2/24-2/27. This post is part of the required content series, all opinions and experiences are my own.
An exclusive interview with Gugu Mbatha-Raw on her role as Dr. Kate Murry in Disney’s A Wrinkle In Time, opening in theaters across the nation Friday, March 9th.
When GuGu Mbatha-Raw first entered the interview room to discuss her role as Dr. Kate Murry in A Wrinkle In Time, I couldn’t help but admire her striking beauty. I recognized her immediately from the film Belle where she played the title role “Belle”, an illegitimate mixed-race daughter of a British admiral, exquisitely. Gugu is not new to the Disney movie scene, while you may not recognize her face from Disney’s live-action film Beauty And The Beast, you may recognize her voice as Plumette. An actress of many facets, Gugu gave us an inside look on her role as Scientist Kate Murry in A Wrinkle In Time and discussed working on the film. Here are the highlights from the interview!
On Playing The “Mom” Role
I’ve never played a mom before and I don’t have kids. When Ava first approached me to play the mom in this I was kind of like, ‘Oh are you sure? I don’t know if I can pull this off.’ And then I saw a picture of Storm and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, look at that, look at her!’ I saw myself in her. It was really not lost on me that growing up I loved the NeverEnding Story and the Wizard of Oz and all of those incredible fantastical adventures. But I didn’t have anybody who looked like myself and Storm as the heroine in those kind of movies when I was young. So yeah, there was sort of a special sort of cultural significance for me to be ushering in the next generation in that way. I don’t get to go to all the fantastical lands that Storm and Derek get to go to in the story, so I really felt like my job was to ground their domestic reality and create that warm, solid family unit that everyone was so desperate to return to.
On What Attracted Her To The Role
Ultimately it was really the opportunity to work with Ava DuVernay. Not having a relationship with the book, I had met Ava when Selma was coming out the same time as Belle. There were a few press things. We’d always met each other at sparkly industry events but we’d never sort of had a real conversation.
She invited me to be a part of this short film, a series of shorts that she made for the opening of the Museum of History and Culture at the Smithsonian. And we did one short, one day of filming to represent Hurricane Katrina in this series of different shorts. I think maybe she was sussing me out that day because, literally a couple of weeks later, I got the offer for Wrinkle.
On The Challenges Playing A Scientist
I have to confess, it was a nightmare. The day that we were doing the sort of Ted Talk and we were talking about quantum entanglement and all this astrophysics, which I have a very, very light grasp of, was our first day on set. I’m like, “Oh my God, there’s Chris Pine and there’s Ava and there’s four cameras and we’re on stage with a real audience.” It was a lot getting to grips with all of that scientific language. I’m not going to say it was easy. But we did have this wonderful consultant on the movie called Stephon Alexander who wrote the book, The Jazz of Physics. He was there to talk us through, in layperson’s terms, what we were talking about. We also got a trip to JPL in Pasadena to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, got to meet real astrophysicists and rocket scientists and people planning trips to Mars. So that was really fascinating. Then it was just really grounding it in the relationship, and talking with Ava. I think she was very keen that even though it’s Mrs. Murry in the book that we have Dr. Kate Murry. She’s not just defined by her marriage to her husband, she’s a doctor in her own right as well as a mother, as well as a wife. So emphasizing that the dynamic between them was very much a meeting of minds as well as hearts. They’re intellectual equals. It’s an academic household where learning is encouraged and celebrated. It was really Ava that took the lead in that dynamic. It’s funny, you learn these things for a role and then it evaporates out of your brain afterwards. But it’s great to have the chance to step into someone else’s shoes in a completely different world.
On Her Favorite Line In The Film
I think Oprah has the line ‘All you have to do is find the right frequency and be who you are.’ I was like, that’s the key to life, isn’t it? Just find the right frequency. Find your tribe. Find your purpose. Find the thing that sets you alight and know your frequency, your vibe and then just do that, do you, be authentic.
On What She Would Like Young Girls To Take Away From the Film
I’m drawn to is the idea of finding your voice. I think the idea that who you are is enough, I really respond to in this story. Especially Storm’s character growing up being bullied at school, being uncomfortable in her own skin, not sure where she fits. Those are definitely themes that were in Belle and in Beyond the Lights and in many stories that I’m attracted to. And I think the idea of being authentic to who you are, that you don’t have to find validation from your career or from the music industry or from any external forces. I think that you have all the potential inside of you. That’s something I think I would love young people to feel and learn and understand.