Learning lines and meeting Oprah is child’s play for Wrinkle in Time star
Preteen actor beat out thousands for role of Charles Wallace in movie based on Madeleine L’Engle’s classic novel.
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What was it like working with Oprah? That’s the question Deric McCabe, the nine-year-old star of A Wrinkle in Time, has been asked most often since he started doing press for the new film.
The Whitefish, Mont., native has nothing but praise for the icon but adds she didn’t awe him. “I didn’t know who she was,” he says, “so I didn’t get starstruck or anything. Every day I said, ‘Good morning,’ then goodbye. I said everything to her.”
McCabe plays Charles Wallace, a precocious, intelligent child whose father, astrophysicist Alex Murry (Chris Pine), disappeared through a “wrinkle in time” when the boy was very young. Charles believes he can help locate his dad with the help of three astral travellers, Mrs. Which (Oprah), Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon) and Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling).
Guided by the trio of spirit beings, Charles, his sister Meg (Storm Reid) and their friend — and Meg’s crush — Calvin (Levi Miller) ascend to the universe in search of Alex. In their celestial travels they meet a helpful seer called the Happy Medium (Zach Galifianakis), talking flowers — “Everyone knows the flowers are the best talkers,” says Mrs. Whatsit — and the universe’s most evil entity. They will learn life lessons along the way that may — or may not — reveal what happened to their dad.
McCabe beat out thousands of other child actors for the role of Charles Wallace. A November 2016 entry on his Instagram shows him doing “a little happy dance” when director Ava DuVernay called to tell him he’d won the part.
“Deric worked hard for this,” reads the post, “Hours of auditions, callbacks, meetings interviews... 17 page, 5 page, 3 page, 21 page scripts to learn overnight...while continuing to spend time with family, do his regular chores, and excel in school. He prayed, remained patient, and was persistent.”
“The trick is you can be nervous,” he says of the audition process, “you just can’t show it. You put a straight face on. You can’t fake smile, like you’re nervous. You can’t wave nervously. You have to act confident.” As for all the memorization? “It is kind of easy remembering all those lines. I don’t know why.”
The youngster is working alongside established stars like Winfrey, Witherspoon, Kaling and Galifianakis but it was while watching another performer that the acting bug bit.
“When I was six I saw Scarlett Johansson in The Avengers and I thought, ‘I want to do that,’” McCabe says. “My parents were super supportive. They were like, ‘OK,’ and made it happen and here I am!”
The busy preteen is already winning praise for his performance in A Wrinkle in Time and will soon star opposite Luis Guzmán in the music industry drama Hold On.
“I think I know more about sets and acting than when I started,” he says. “I like how you get to act like a different person every day. That is pretty cool. You get to meet new people.”
Looking back at his A Wrinkle in Time experience, McCabe singles out a scene where his character’s personality changes as his favourite.
“I liked the evil Charles Wallace because I got to do things a regular kid wouldn’t get to do like drag his dad, his sister and her friend down a hallway.”
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