Gugu Mbatha-Raw Interview: A Wrinkle In Time

In Disney’s A Wrinkle in Time, Gugu Mbatha-Raw is Kate Murry, mother to the Murry children, Meg, played by Storm Reid, and Charles, played by Deric McCabe. Screen Rant sat down with her recently to talk about the film and she discusses the importance of strong female characters who show that it’s cool for women to be scientists, working with fresh young talent, her time on Doctor Who, and the Sci-Fi/Fantasy worlds she grew up reading about.

Screen Rant: Wonderful job on this film, I loved it.

Gugu Mbatha-Raw: Oh, thank you.

Screen Rant: One of the coolest things about it for me, was that I'm a biracial kid too, so super cool to see that on screen because it's not something you get every day.

Gugu Mbatha-Raw: Yeah.

Screen Rant: But I do want to ask you, your character and family are all defined by their science, their scientific balance, how important is that type of presentation for this?

Gugu Mbatha-Raw: Science?

Screen Rant: Yeah, yeah, the science, like the families, it's obviously a multicultural family but they're all based in science, that's their thing, scientific element, so how important is it to be seen as them being scientists in this film?

Gugu Mbatha-Raw: I mean I think it's great cause for me, you know, in this household, the Murry household, like science and being academic and you know, striving intellectually, being a pioneer, is cool.

Screen Rant: Yeah.

Gugu Mbatha-Raw:Like, that’s the play in this household and I think that's so cool to celebrate that, you know. You know science wasn't really my strong point at school I was obviously going to the arts, but you know, I think I definitely did work hard at school and you know, that wasn’t always perceived as cool, but I don’t care, you know, because here we are now and you know, I think it's nice to see science and you know, a young girl who’s interested in science being celebrated. So yeah, hopefully maybe it inspires the next generation of female and males scientists.

Screen Rant: Sure. Now something that's also pretty cool about this film is that both of these young actors, Deric and Storm, they're amazing, did you have any advice for them at all, like as they’re starting their career in acting?

Gugu Mbatha-Raw: You know, I mean I try to lead by example. I think, you know, they’ve got so much going on and they’re both, you know, they've both got their very supportive parents and . . .

Screen Rant: Super important.

Gugu Mbatha-Raw: Yeah, and I think, you know, that's really where the real work is going on, you know, and you know, I think both Storm and Deric, you know, very different personalities, but you know for Storm, she's incredibly grounded and authentic and articulate and talented and you know, I think if she ever wanted to ask me for advice, of course I would give it to her, but I think she seems very set that she seems to be already on the on the right path, you know, and Deric is so young and bright and free, you know, I wanted him in any of that, I think he's just doing just fine, so, and as I say you know there's so many inspiring grownups in this, it’s pretty big and you know, I think as I say, just being surrounded by Oprah, Mindy, Reese, myself, Chris, Ava,  you know, you do your best to lead by example and you know, usher in the next generation.

Screen Rant: You know, I'm sure as an actress, with every role you . . . but especially with different characters you play, you learn something, what is it that you can take away from A Wrinkle in Time that you can take your next project, or even in your everyday life?

Gugu Mbatha-Raw: You know, one of the messages I love from the film is you know, the idea of who you are and who you are not, and you know, talking with Chris earlier and about you know, his character is wrestling between the ego and the soul you know, the idea he's been striving for his career success and you know at the expense of spending time with his family and you know, sacrificing this human connection for looking for validation from his peers in the world and I think that's, you know, in this culture of workaholism where we're all praised for just keeping going and you know, to remember to connect with my family. . .

Screen Rant: Sure.

Gugu Mbatha-Raw: And with real people in my life, you know, as much as this is an exciting career, I think it's very important to remember you know, what makes it all make sense.

Screen Rant: Sure.

Gugu Mbatha-Raw: And I think that’s definitely what this story is about.

Screen Rant: Now, despite this being a family movie your character is actually going through a very traumatic time, well from the loss of her husband.

Gugu Mbatha-Raw:Mmhmm.

Screen Rant: How do you balance keeping the, having a. . .  balancing the drama while keeping a sense of like levity and hope?

Gugu Mbatha-Raw: Yeah, I think you know, yeah, she is in a difficult situation, but I think hope is the key and I think you know, for me that was what I was held on to trying to imagine what it would be like to lose your husband and you know, not necessarily know if he would ever come back, but I think you know, in life being able to exist in a state of not knowing is sometimes the hardest thing. We’re always trying to make things certain and find the answer, and actually sometimes if you can have the courage just to be and maybe you know, not know what the end result is going to be, that, that takes the most courage and as I say, you know, she never gives up hope so I’m inspired by that.

Screen Rant: You know, were you a Sci-Fi fan growing up and do you have a relationship, like did you read this book as you were growing up at all?

Gugu Mbatha-Raw: I actually didn't. I think maybe growing up in the UK it wasn't quite such a big of a deal and it will be now, I'm sure. I wasn’t aware of the book, I first came to it when Ava sent me the script, so I read Jennifer Lee’s script first and then back to the book. I wasn’t especially a Sci-Fi fan and I mean I was obsessed with sort of more fantasy, like I remember reading Lord of the Rings when I was eleven, I read them all and I was sort of a fantasy books, type books that were available in the U.K. The Red Dwarf series of books, which I was obsessed with by Brian Jakes.

And they had like animals and like badgers and like bears and they all lived in castles and it was very cool. So yeah, I think fantasy is . . . there's an element of escapism and symbolism in a lot of these stories, you know, growing up with things like Narnia, you know. . .

Screen Rant: Yes!

Gugu Mbatha-Raw: The Chronicles of Narnia was on T.V. when I was a kid and that was huge for me. Aslan, I mean oh my God, when Aslan died, what?!?  So that was sort of my generation of fantasy.

Screen Rant: You know, you were in one of my favorite television shows of all time, Doctor Who.

Gugu Mbatha-Raw: Ohh, wow.

Screen Rant: As Martha Jones’ sister.

Gugu Mbatha-Raw: Yeah, Tish.

Screen Rant: Tish, so I gotta to ask you a question, Jodi Whitaker is taking on as the new Doctor, the first female Doctor, what are your thoughts on that and would you ever be open to possibly being the Doctor yourself?

Gugu Mbatha-Raw: Ah wow, well listen, I mean Jodi is just taking the helm, I'm very excited for her, she’s a great actress and yeah, I mean, who knows, I’d be open to it. I think you know, she's going to do an amazing job and we’ll see.

Screen Rant: I would love to see you as the Doctor, honestly. So, let me ask you about Ava, what was it like working with her? She's a visionary, like a straight up visionary. She's an amazing director, so what was it like working with her and what did you learn from her?

Gugu Mbatha-Raw:You know, she's so passionate and smart and I think you know I did my homework for Selma and Thirteen, she’s very conscious of what she’s is putting out the world and I'm conscious of that and the message how does this help the culture evolve? You know she's got a incredible energy about very focused you know, I remember her saying ‘it's not about sort of knocking on doors in this industry, you have to build your own house’ and I think that really stuck with me, the idea that, you know, you can't wait for permission to tell your story, you know, you have it within you and just go for it and to witness her doing that is hugely inspiring to me.

Screen Rant: Interesting, so this is your, if I'm correct, this is your second Disney film. . .

Gugu Mbatha-Raw: Yeah.

Screen Rant: You did Beauty and the Beast, you have A Wrinkle In Time, what are the chances we can see you in another Disney property, whether the Star Wars or Marvel?

Gugu Mbatha-Raw: I don't know, what are the chances?

Screen Rant: I feel like your name is always floating around for Marvel movies, I've heard from like Captain Marvel . . .

Gugu Mbatha-Raw: Yeah.

Screen Rant: Your name was floating around, so I feel like it's only a matter of time. Right?

Gugu Mbatha-Raw: Who knows? If the right thing comes along . . .

Screen Rant: What character would you want to portray in one of those universes?

Gugu Mbatha-Raw: Well, now you're putting me on the spot, because I don't know them all. . .

Screen Rant: You don’t have to know them all.

Gugu Mbatha-Raw: I don’t know, I feel like I would like to play, you know, a nuanced complex superhero. I think it's time to have, you know, a multifaceted superhero. So we’ll see.

Screen Rant: Alright, so with A Wrinkle In Time, to me, I love this movie, it's one of the first movies in a long time that I think I smiled almost the whole way through, it's just, it's so uplifting, when you walk out of the theater you just feel good about yourself, you feel good about humanity I guess. What does this movie mean to you and what message do you want audiences to take away from this?

Gugu Mbatha-Raw:You know, I feel like this is about love and family and finding your voice, finding your authentic self, not being afraid, you know, to bring people together and you know, I love the journey that Storm goes on, you know, she starts off very insecure and you know, not comfortable in her own skin, she ends up sort of in her power and so I hope, you know, young girls and boys will be inspired to know that you know, maybe they have something to teach that parents.

Screen Rant: Absolutely!

Gugu Mbatha-Raw: You know I think there’s sort of a role reversal in this movie. . .

Screen Rant: There is, absolutely.

Gugu Mbatha-Raw: In terms of who has the wisdom, who can see the truth, who is the most authentic? So yeah, I hope people feel inspired by that.

Screen Rant: So, last year, you talked about your film Miss Sloane had the opportunity to offer the way that women were seen in real life, what opportunity for change do you see in Wrinkle in Time for women?

Gugu Mbatha-Raw: For women?

Screen Rant: For girls, young girls, or anybody.

Gugu Mbatha-Raw: Yes, sorry I don't know how that references to Miss Sloane . . . But anyway, I mean there’s so many powerful women in this movie you know, from Oprah, Reese, Mindy . . . You know, I think it's there, you know, it's an incredibly diverse cast, I think, you know, I hope women will be inspired to be warriors, to you know, to stand up for the truth and what they want in life and to join together. I think this is also a girl gang movie, you know I think uniting with other women as we've seen in the world, women sort of finding a sense of community with each other and that creates so much strength and confidence. So yeah, I hope young girls are inspired by that.

MORE: Zach Galifianakis Interview for A Wrinkle in Time

Key Release Dates
  • A Wrinkle In Time (2018) release date: Mar 09, 2018
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