Today, I am excited to continue my A Wrinkle in Time cast interview series with a recap of our time with Gugu Mbatha-Raw. Gugu’s spirit lit up the room from the moment she entered and it was a delight meeting her. She was kind, smart and articulate. She plays Meg’s mom, Dr. Murry in the movie. She had a lot to say on developing her character, lessons in the movie and following your dreams.
On Developing Dr. Murry for A Wrinkle in Time
You approached a role as a mother with such dignity and truth. Can you talk a little bit of about your process of finding that character?
I’ve never played a mom before. I don’t have kids. When Ava first approached me to play the mom in this I was 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. And I think it was really not lost on me that growing up I loved the never ending 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. There was sort of a special sort of cultural significance for me to sort of be ushering in the next generation in that way. And like you say, 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 Lessons for Young Girls in A Wrinkle in Time
What do you want kids or little girls specifically to take away from your role as a single mother and even the story a wrinkle in time?
I think some of the themes are actually very similar for me and what I’m drawn to the idea of finding your voice. I think the idea that who you are is enough is something that 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.
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, from any external forces. I think that you have all the potential inside of you. And that’s something I would love young people to feel and learn and understand.
On Pursuing Your Passions for a Career
You mentioned not seeing a lot of people or heroines on screen that looked like you when you were growing up. Yet you persevered and endeavored to be in this industry and to change what that looks like. Was there a moment that you can look back at that you said that this is my time to be a warrior?
I think I just always have. I think you know I credit my mom with encouraging me and instilling confidence in me and she always supported me. I think you know from going to ballet at age 4. I was an only child so I didn’t have anybody to play with. That was how I found my playmates and my siblings in a sense was in my dance class, in my drama group and the school choir and you know.
Also, my mom was a nurse. She was a single parent. She worked full-time. She didn’t enjoy her job. I would see her come home from work really tired. And I remember thinking quite clearly when I was about 11, I was like okay, I’m going to do a job that I love because I can see that this is wearing on my mom. And I you know, I respect and I know that she’s doing that as a sacrifice for me, but if I get the chance I’m going to do what I love. So I made my hobby my job basically.
On Making Time for Her Passions
You said that you made your hobby your career. What are some other things that you enjoy doing?
I know, it’s tricky then because then you’re like, you make your hobby your job so then what’s your hobby? I love yoga. That’s something I find really is just centers me with all this traveling and always inhabiting different people. It’s something that [yoga] gets me back to neutral in myself. I love art. I love painting and drawing. That’s something I loved as a kid and something I love when I have the time. It gets me into that flow state where I sort of lose track of time when I’m drawing.
I love being out in nature and hiking and traveling going to different cultures. I always feel like you learn so much about yourself as well when you put yourself in a completely new context and have to kind of have an adventure and explore. There’s so much stuff I enjoy doing. And as I say, each job sort of feels like it provides a whole new set of extracurricular sort of research opportunities. I’m a bit of a nerd so I love sort of reading around a job and meeting people that do my job or do the job that my character does and all of that sort of thing. It’s constantly interesting.
I enjoyed our time with Gugu so much. She truly radiates kindness and joy.