NZ draws Oprah back to the big screen

Oscar-nominated director Ava DuVernay says she used Oprah Winfrey’s love for New Zealand to convince her to star in the film A Wrinkle in Time.

The successful duo spoke exclusively to Māori Television’s current affairs show, Native Affairs, when they spent two weeks in the South Island last year to shoot parts of the $142mil Disney film.

“When I first talked with Oprah about this film and said I wanted to film in New Zealand, before she was even cast, she said, “If you shoot in NZ, I’ll come and visit because I love New Zealand,” DuVernay says.

This exchange planted a seed in DuVernay’s mind to cast Oprah in her film.

“I told her that I’ve got this part which she would be perfect for and it’s two weeks in New Zealand- and she said, ‘Sold.  I’m coming,’- That’s how we got her.”

Winfrey told Native Affairs that she loves New Zealand so much she finds it hard to leave.

“Usually I can’t wait to get home because I love my own backyard so much.  New Zealand fills me up so deeply that I don’t have the usual longing to get home.”

The media mogul plans to return in January to spend her 65th birthday hiking around New Zealand.

In A Wrinkle in Time, Winfrey stars alongside Reese Witherspoon and Mindy Kailing as three astral travellers who help a young woman find her father who is held captive in a distant planet.

The film, based on the classic book by Madeleine L’Engle, is DuVernay’s first Hollywood blockbuster after directing the acclaimed film Selma, which was about Martin Luther King Jr.

DuVernay is the first African American woman to direct a $100 million film.

A Wrinkle in Time opens in New Zealand on April 12.

Native Affairs’ exclusive chat with Oprah Winfrey and Ava DuVernay will launch its new season on March 12 on Māori Television at 8pm.

Watch the trailer for A Wrinkle in Time here: