Oscar-winning Director of Frozen and screenwriter Jennifer Lee, talks about taking a classic novel and adapting it for Disney’s A Wrinkle in Time. As the screenwriter for Wrinkle she shares details about the process in this exclusive interview!
I was invited as media to cover this event. All opinions are my own.
Exclusive Interview with Screenwriter Jennifer Lee
Jennifer shares, “It was a challenge. When I heard they were looking for a writer, I was like, “Oh oh oh!” because I had loved it as a kid.” A Wrinkle in Time took four years to bring to the big screen. Part of that challenge Jennifer mentioned was not trying to be the book, “If we try to be the book we’ll fail. But showing our love for the book, showing how much inspiration there is in the book. And how strong the journey is in the book. I could stay true to that.”
Regarding the writing process itself, Jennifer shares, “I tend to write in the mornings and then I can edit and give notes, some things in the afternoons. I spent about a year and a half to almost two years, just writing. I worked very closely with Jim Whittaker and Catherine Hand, the producers, creatively. And then with the studio, getting notes. And what I loved is the notes were always about deepening.”
A Wrinkle in Time is full of wisdom and thought-provoking phrases. We asked Jennifer what some of her favorites were. Jennifer responded, “Oh god. Yeah, ‘wild nights in my glory’. ‘I give you your flaws.'”
We asked about pieces of the book that don’t make it to the screen, particularly Aunt Beast, and how that process worked. Jennifer shared, “we wrote out this beautiful scene, and they shot it. And it’s fantastic. But the truth was, the structure of the book allows for different things. And at that stage in the journey, Meg had to face her – the greatest darkness of all. And we were ready for it. And pulling out for that other planet, it did something where you didn’t feel the same way going in.” She spoke about that possibly making the cut of deleted scenes for the DVD – and we all agreed we hoped it would be there too.
What was Jennifer inspiration for being a screenwriter? Jennifer Lee mentioned she drew a lot as a child, and always had a fascination for Disney – hoping to be an animator one day. But she wrote a lot too, sharing, “I was running sagas in my head. I would have these like epic journeys going on at night, to fall asleep. And one day I wrote a scene down. I overheard something and I just started writing it. And I turned it into a scene. And I went, oh my god….this is the thing that I’ve been looking for.” Adding, “I had already been a visual artist so I knew I was a visual thinker. But I was 30 when I went to film school. And I’d had a whole decade in book publishing. So for me I came to it late.”
Jennifer is currently working on the Broadway version of Frozen. We asked about her experience writing for Broadway versus a film and she shared, “It’s great. I mean, in many wonderful ways, A WRINKLE IN TIME is a perfect thing in the middle. The difference between animation [Frozen] which is like, you have as directors, especially, complete control. It’s decadent. But then you get to Broadway and the actors own it and they’re live. And that’s it, you surrender. So it was a great way to sorta ease me into that. It doesn’t matter how fantastical the world or whether it’s just a tiny set. It all comes back to the intimacy of those characters. And in fact, Disney didn’t put FROZEN on Broadway in a giant theater, like Lion King. Because you need that intimate connection, you need to keep it with the girls. That’s the foundation.”
A big thank you to Screenwriter Jennifer Lee for taking time to speak with us!
A Wrinkle in Time is now in theaters! Are you taking your family to see the film? It’s a great inspiration adventure for young girls!