In Ava DuVernay’s film adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle In Time, Meg (Storm Reid) must journey across time and space to rescue her father, Dr. Alex Murray (Chris Pine), who has been held captive by a dark force for four years. It will be a perilous journey that will test her wits and her courage, but it will also give her the strength to overcome her fears and insecurities.
But she will not face them alone. Meg will be joined by her brother Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe) and Calvin (Levi Miller), and all three will be guided by Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling), Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey), and Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon), three celestial beings whose power transcends any known science.
Winfrey, who plays Mrs. Which, the oldest and wisest of the celestial beings, was offered the role after telling DuVernay that she wanted to revisit New Zealand when she heard that the director would be heading over there to scout filming locations for A Wrinkle In Time. So after a little back and forth, Winfrey agreed to visit and was given the script to the film. “She said well, ‘why not take a look at the script? I’ve wanted to ask you to do this, but I didn’t want to pressure you because of our friendship,’” Winfrey said. “I go, okay, I’ll do it. I didn’t even know what it was. I’ll do it.”
Having not read the book, Winfrey was not sure what she was in for. And when she reported on set and saw all the wire work, she realized that “This is some movie.” In fact, she described “the whole process has just been one big delight.” Adding “when you look up the word “delight,” there’s my picture.”
Witherspoon, who plays the sassy Mrs. Whatsit, admits that her casting isn’t nearly exciting, but said when she got the call, she immediately accepted without knowing what it was. But it wasn’t just about making a movie; it was about the opportunity to make one with Ava DuVernay. “It’s very flattering to be chosen to be part of Ava’s movies because she doesn’t just make a movie, she makes an experience for everyone,” Witherspoon said. “She cares about what happens in front of the camera, and she cares about what happens behind the camera.”
She compared her time on set to participating in “a masterclass in how to be a very thoughtful filmmaker.” The Academy Award-winning actress went as far as calling DuVernay “a real visionary.” “In so many ways. So it was a privilege and an honor, and I got to be this amazing celestial person, who hangs out with Oprah and Mindy all day,” Witherspoon said.
Kaling, who plays the quirky Mrs. Who, who can only speak in quotes or lyrics from famous authors and musicians, says it was an honor to “act with these incredible actors.” One thing the actress was unsure of is if she would be a part of the film given that she came from a background in sitcom and DuVernay is a filmmaker.
But after a brief meeting, the two would reunite for A Wrinkle In Time, where Kaling, finally felt that she could be embraced by a genre that has ignored her for as long as she could remember.
“So, I loved science fiction and fantasy growing up, but it was a genre that largely did not love me back,” Kaling said. “I never saw any representation of like a dark-skinned Indian woman, an Indian girl, anybody, in anything that I saw. And it’s a peculiar thing when you grow up loving something that shows you no love back. It’s such a pure love because you’re not getting anything from it.”
She added that it is profound to be a part of genre film that has, in large part, ignored her completely. “To be part of this movie, I broke out in TV which is so welcoming to me, and comedy which is so welcoming to me, but to be part of this, and to be on a green screen stage in harnesses because you’re doing a science fiction fantasy movie, it’s so fun, because I finally feel welcomed with open arms to something that has ignored me completely,” Kaling said. “And so, that is so profound, and I think if that can be something that the miniature version of me could watch and be excited by, I think that’s such a huge thing. So that was exciting.”
So as the film helps efforts in representation and female empowerment, it may also help restore some of that hope that has diminished in the past few years. “I think the darkness is there to help bring out the light in all of us,” Winfrey said. “And if you think about it, if we turned all the lights off in this room, and you just held one person just held a candle, you would start to dissipate the darkness. You would banish the darkness.”
She added, “So just, it just takes a little bit of light. Just a little bit of light. That’s what we’re hoping for, a little bit of light. And if everybody can get that message, that’s how we have hope in the world. We’re looking for warriors who can bring hope back.”
One can only hope that these warriors can answer the call to bring back hope and light.
A Wrinkle In Time opens in theaters on March 9, 2018.