tv + film by Patricia Chong

A Quick Chat with Deric McCabe

The Filipino-American ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ star on the book, representation, and his crush on ScarJo.


When the trailer to A Wrinkle in Time dropped, eagle-eyed devotees of Madeleine L’Engle’s beloved book series were on the hunt for even a sliver of Charles Wallace—main character Meg Murry’s little brother (who eventually becomes the main character in a later book). And they found him, there in the form of eight-year-old Filipino-American actor Deric McCabe. He tells us about working on his first big film project, his trailer, and his love for Scarlett Johansson.


How did you get into acting?
Well, I was once watching a Scarlett Johansson movie—The Avengers—doing stunts, and I was like “Wooow! I wanna do that!”

I heard you’ve got a huge photo of her! How did you get it?
So Ava [DuVernay], the director, was the first person that I told that I have a huge crush on Scarlett Johansson. So as a starting gift, when we first started filming, she gave me a huge photo of her, and I put it up in my trailer.

When you were auditioning for A Wrinkle in Time, were you already a fan of the book?
I didn’t know there was a book until Ava told me! So I had no idea that it was already a story. I’m still reading it right now, because you know, it’s like a looong book. It’s really good because I get to compare the two, the movie and the book.

Noticed any big differences?
Well, there’s nothing I would have done differently [as Charles Wallace], but definitely I’m noticing huge differences from the movie and in the book. The flowers! They don’t talk at all, and they’re not used to catch people falling out of the sky. They’re actually just to get oxygen for the people.

So what was the filming like?
It was really fun filming, because there were so many blue screens and green screens! And it’s really fun to watch it come to life. But I really liked filming the cave scene—with Zach Galifianakis—because it was a place where they built it, and they didn’t use any CGI on it. There wasn’t any blue screen—they built the whole thing!


Storm Reid, Deric McCabe, and Reese Witherspoon


Speaking of Zack Galifianakis—you got to work with a lot of more experienced actors in the film.
Well, it was really funny, because at first, I didn’t know who any of them were. My mom was just like, “Oh my god, you’re going to work with Oprah Winfrey.” And I was like, “Oh my gosh! Oprah! Oh my gosh, she’s so amazing… who is she and what did she do?” And when I met them, it was really amazing because they’re so down to earth, and they’re just regular people. Levi [Miller] was super sarcastic in many different ways—he’d tell a story that was completely made up and with a completely straight face, so I didn’t believe him. So at the end of filming, I didn’t believe anything he’d say. So he’d say, “Hi,” and I’d say, “Oh yeah, right.”

And this is your first big film project after doing mostly commercials—was there anything you had to adjust to?
It was crazy because they have all these lights now, and they build so many things by hand. They also have these big cameras, and it’s really crazy! But other than that, nothing, really, other than having a huge trailer.

What’s in your trailer?
My Scarlett Johansson poster, a bathroom, a TV, and a couch—oh, and a fireplace!

Last question! Representation is a huge topic in film right now. What do you feel about representing Filipinos in an American film?
Well, I feel like we’re not in films as much, so I feel like I have to represent Filipinos in the industry—and I’m really proud of it, being a Filipino. So I feel like there’s a lot of pressure, but I can’t let it get to me.

Patricia Chong
Patricia Chong was cursed at birth with a common name and now goes around calling herself Pacho. She hides out in her cave with an anime or the Lord of the Rings extended trilogy, and comes out for good food, spontaneous adventures, and (ugh) work.
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