I miss acting. I really do. I don’t miss the hustle of it or the incessant judgement at auditions or the self doubt that accompanies it… but I miss the art of acting. I am that annoying person watching a movie that will talk about how a scene was to make vs how the scene was to experience as a viewer. ::sigh:: My poor husband…
In last week’s Wrinkle In time Premiere Event I was given the amazing opportunity to interview Gugu M’Batha-Raw, the actress who plays Dr. Murray. She is gorgeous, she is #Blackgirlmagic and she is charming as ever.
Here are some excerpts of what we discussed, going from #representationmatters, to interesting acting tricks and her thought on her amazing director.
Q : Can you talk a little bit of about your process of finding that character?
GM : Oh, thank you. Yeah, I mean for you know I’ve never played a mom before. I don’t have kids. You know 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 you know. And then I saw a picture of Storm and I was like, oh my gosh, look at that, look at her. You know I saw myself in her. And I think you know it was really not lost on me that you know growing up I loved the never ending story and the Wizard of Oz and all of those incredible fantastical adventures.
But you know 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 sort of be ushering in the next generation in that way. And like you say, you know I don’t get to go to all the fantastical lands that Storm and Derek get to go to in the story. So I sort of really felt like my job was to ground their domestic reality you know as –, and you know create that warm, solid family unit that everyone was so desperate to return to.
Q : 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?
GM : Yeah, you know I think some of the themes are actually very similar for me and what I’m drawn to you know the idea of finding your voice. I think the idea that who you are is enough is something that I really you know respond to in this story especially you know Storm’s character growing up being bullied at school, being uncomfortable in her own skin, not sure where she fits. You know 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 you know the idea of being authentic to who you are that you don’t have to find validation from your career or from you know the music industry, from any external forces. I think that you have all the potential inside of you. And that’s something I think I would love young people to feel and learn and understand.
Q : What attracted you to this role? What really made you feel like this could be something that you could just sink your teeth into it?
GM : For me I mean ultimately it was really the opportunity to work with Ava DuVernay. You know I think that you know not having a relationship with the book you know and I had met Ava you know when –, Selma was coming out the same time as Belle. There were a few sort of press things. We’d always met each other at sparkly industry events but we’d never sort of had a real conversation….
And you know just talking to her about it and her passion and her vision and you know knowing that she’d cast Storm and you know how she wanted to tell this story you know it was a no-brainer to me. You know I really wanted to be a part of this game changing moment really in the industry. I could feel that this, the way that she was going to cast this film, the fact that it’s historically significant that she’s even directing this film you know as a woman of color. And for me I wanted to be a part of that girl gang. I wanted to be celebrating you know what this means culturally. So yeah, I wanted to be a part of the gang.
Q : This film is for girls 8 to 12 years old children. What would you tell your eight to 12-year-old self?
GM : I don’t know. It’s so funny because I –. I guess just to keep being you. You know I sort of –, you know I was quite an exuberant 8 to 12. I’m trying to really picture myself at that age. But yeah, that’s okay to work hard. I think I was quite nerdy at school and you know I used to get teased for constantly putting my hand up and being like a teacher’s pet or a nerd or a geek or all of those things that are not cool.
And you know I mean it didn’t stop me. But I think maybe I would like some reassurance that like being a nerd is cool and actually you know nerds are the most interesting people outside of high school. You know and yeah and just keep doing what you love.
Q : Going back to reading, when you were reading the script or even the book what were the lines that were very powerful and resonated ?
GM : Yeah, I mean it just came back to me just watching the film for the first time the other day you know when the first tessering moment. I think Oprah has the line you know all you have to do is find the right frequency and be who you are. And 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 you know your frequency, your vibe and then just do that, do you, be authentic.
And as I say, I just heard that again for the first time and I was like that’s genius. I’m just keeping that you know. So I mean there’s so many pearls of wisdom in this film from to outcast you know but I kind of love that that there’s sort of pop culture references as well as these sort of historical sages, so yeah.
Q : I read that you use fragrance to get into the head of the character. Did you use any for this film?
GM : Yeah, I’m wearing it today actually… It’s a personal thing. It’s like a sense memory you know. You might do a couple of days you know on one movie –. You know I think when I was doing wrinkle I was you know it spread over Christmas. And you know and there’s some time off and I might do another project or something. And for me it’s a sense memory of getting back into that character, in that place. You know and even coming in knowing I was talking about the film today I was like oh yeah, there’s that Jasmine scent that I had for Mrs. Murray. Like I’m going to put that on because that’s going to get me in the right headspace.
Q : You mentioned not seeing a lot of people or heroines on screen that looked like you. But yet you kind of 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?
GM : 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. And then I –, 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. So yeah, I guess I just, I 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 you know 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 you know I can see that this is wearing on my mom. And I you know, I respect and I know that that’s –, you know 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.
And I think I’m stubborn as well. I you know I’m sensitive but I’m stubborn too. So I think you know underneath it all you know I’m a marathon runner.
Q : You and Chris portray these amazing scientists and doing all this stuff. What did you guys have to do to prepare kind of like the linguistic part of learning all the scientific stuff?
GM : Oh my God, I have to confess it was a nightmare. The day that we were doing the sort of ted talk and there was sort of a flashback of a ted talk. And we were talking about quantum entanglement and all this astrophysics which I have a very, very light grasp of. And you know it was our first day onset. And 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. I mean it’s sort of you know, it was a lot getting to grips with all of that scientific language. I’m not going to say it was easy. But you know we did have this wonderful consultant on the movie called Stephon Alexander who wrote the book, the jazz of physics. And he was there to sort of talk us through in layperson’s terms you know what we were talking about.
I think she was very keen that you know even though it’s Mrs. Murry in the book that we have Dr. Kate Murry. You know 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. And so you know and 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. And you know so it was really sort of Ava that took the lead in sort of that dynamic.
Q : You have quite a range because I just saw a Cloverfield Paradox like the other day. And you know this is sci-fi but that is also sci-fi as well. Where do you find your passion lies? Is it more action or is it based on the character itself?
GM : You know I like to be stretched. You know I like a challenge. I got used to being out of my comfort zone I think so I don’t like to repeat myself. You know I think naturally I have an affinity towards drama and intense sort of straight psychological deep drama but you know you can’t do that all the time. And I think sometimes you know it’s nice to switch up the genres. You know I’m very much drawn to what the message of the piece is.
Q : You said that you made your hobby your career. What are some other things that you enjoy doing?
GM : I know, it’s tricky then because then you’re like, you make your hobby your job so then what’s your hobby? Yeah, you know I love yoga. That’s something I find really is just centers me with all this traveling and you know always inhabiting different people. It’s something that really centers me, 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 you know when I have the time. It sort of gets me into that flow state where I sort of lose track of time when I’m drawing.
Yeah, you know I love being out in nature and hiking and traveling you know 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.
A Wrinkle in Time opens tomorrow – Check out the trailer below: