Oprah praises Reese, Reese praises Mindy, and so on and so forth in that fashion until all the principal players of A Wrinkle in Time — including director Ava DuVernay and star Storm Reid — have been duly complimented for their work on- and offscreen making the fantasy film.
Both in Madeleine L’Engle’s classic novel and in Disney’s live-action adaptation (out Mar. 9), a key theme of A Wrinkle in Time is finding inspiration—Meg Murry learns to look inward and draw strength from herself, but she’s stimulated in that introspective journey by helpful wisdom from her peers, both celestial and classmate.
It takes barely a moment to recognize that the spiritual camaraderie of Meg and her guides Mrs. Which, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Whatsit is just as pure and present among the actresses who play the roles: Reid, Oprah Winfrey, Mindy Kaling, and Reese Witherspoon. Joined by their director, DuVernay, the women sat down with EW ahead of the film’s release for a candid roundtable that addressed, among other topics, the way each of them found inspiration from each other on set.
We asked the Wrinkle team to address the person seated next to them and reveal a time that they were particularly inspired or moved by her.
DuVernay, kicking off our strange exercise in admiration, pointed to the legacy that Reid leaves by virtue of being a young black girl inhabiting a space-hopping, fantasy-sprawling role like Meg Murry: “It’s hard to explain how it feels to have Storm say to [costar Levi Miller], Meg say to Calvin, ‘Do you trust me?’ — a little black girl to a Caucasian boy. And he says yes, and he follows her. You’ve never seen that before on film. And so those are transformative images, and to watch her through my camera, through my lens, doing those things so powerfully, so bravely, so boldly, so openly. ‘Miss Ava, what do you want me to do?’ And she would go do it, and I don’t think she understood how many decades and generations of women were also watching her do that. So full of joy, to watch her do the things that have never been done before on camera.”
Reid, seated between DuVernay and Winfrey, cited a memorable conversation she shared with Oprah on the set of their Essence cover shoot during the early days of their press tour. “We were sitting on the couch, and… I can’t remember her exact words, but basically [she] said that she had never met a young girl like me, and saying that as in how my mom raised me and all that we’ve been through and how much faith we had, and it’s not about my acting. Her recognizing that, it just made me feel proud of myself.” (Winfrey’s reply: “I said the future’s so bright for you, it burns my eyes.”)
Winfrey took on Witherspoon, one multi-hyphenate lauding the other but pointing out the special nuances of Witherspoon’s additional role as mother. “I marveled every day [at] her ability to be so one thousand percent present for all of us, and then when she said, ‘Bye, y’all!’, taking her wig off, I would think, ‘She’s getting in a car and she’s going home to a completely different life where children are waiting for her to appear in the door as their mom,’” said Winfrey. “Not as Reese Witherspoon, the famous Academy Award-winning actress. Not as the producer of Big Little Lies. Not as the women who’s been hanging out on the wires with us all day… and then she’d come in in the morning, ‘Morning, y’all!’, and just be one thousand percent there for us. I think that mothering is the most sacred job on earth. It’s a holy thing when you do it well. And I just have nothing but praise for the women who do both.”
Witherspoon, speaking about Kaling, said that not only did the Mindy Project star frequently shout out the writers of the film and book, but that her love of language elevated the very tricky role of Mrs. Who. “I remember reading the script and thinking, ‘I couldn’t do that,’” said Witherspoon. “She speaks in famous quotes. This is one of the funniest women in the world, honestly. If you go to lunch with her, she will crack you up. And she writes the best books. But she’s also got this brilliant mind that’s exploding with ideas and funny little bon mots all day and on Twitter, and she can’t say any of them! She can literally just express Rumi quotes, OutKast quotes. And it’s brilliant, too, that she brought her beautiful joy and energy to those beautiful words.”
It was Kaling who swung the circle back around to DuVernay, whom she praised for one particular night on set (watch the video above) and an overarching sense of optimism and love in the making of Wrinkle. “Every day, she says this thing, which is so accurate, which is that there’s love in every frame of this movie. And it’s her love,” said Kaling. “And she made us fall in love with it by doing it.”
Watch the video above—we dare you to feel the love.