After impressing many with the civil rights drama Selma and acclaimed documentary 13th, director Ava DuVernay is going to try her hand at big-budget genre filmmaking. She is calling the shots on Disney’s adaptation of the popular science fantasy novel A Wrinkle In Time, which recently began production. Over the past couple of months, the movie has acquired a star-studded cast that includes the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Chris Pine, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, and Zach Galifiankis (among others). Frozen co-writer Jennifer Lee is penning the script, and the expectation is that A Wrinkle In Time will hit theaters in 2018. It tells the story of the young girl Meg (Storm Reid) who embarks on a journey to space to find her father.
With the cameras rolling, one would think that there were no more roles left to be filled on the production. But as is wont to happen from time to time, there are some late additions to A Wrinkle In Time. Fan-favorite character actor Michael Peña, who was a scene-stealer in Marvel’s Ant-Man last summer, has now come on board to play a key supporting role.
The film’s official Twitter account broke the news that Peña will portray the character known as Red. While not officially confirmed, it would be reasonable to assume that this is The Man with Red Eyes from the source material. For those not in the know, that figure is a being Meg and her companions encounter in their quest on the planet Camazotz. He is the Prime Coordinator of that world and is controlled by the IT (a telepathic brain that essentially rules Camaztz). Looking into his eyes presents the risk of becoming possessed by the IT.
In the book, Red is one of the primary immortal characters, so chances are his role in the film is somewhat significant. It should be a treat to watch a talent like Peña in the part. His comedic chops made him a standout in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but Peña is also more than capable of delivering a fine dramatic performance (see: End of Watch). This is a different kind of role for him to take on, giving the actor an opportunity to showcase his range. Peña is typically a friendly presence or someone aligned with the heroes of the narrative, so this is a chance for a large audience to see him in an antagonistic light. When the material calls for it, he can bring a hard-edge and intensity to his roles, so he should prove to be a strong fit.
The addition of Peña is just another reason to look forward to A Wrinkle In Time, which is considered an ambitious and complex tale. Given that it sports a $100 million budget, it’s hard to shake the feeling that this could be DuVernay’s audition for one of Disney’s big franchise tentpoles. Prior to the hiring of Ryan Coogler, she met with Marvel to discuss Black Panther, and her advice to J.J. Abrams led to a memorable Star Wars: The Force Awakens moment. With her star clearly on the rise, the Mouse House would definitely be interested in keeping her a part of the family.
As of this writing, A Wrinkle In Time has no release date, but it’s expected to premiere in 2018.