EMBRACING DIVERSITY IN THRILLING YA MOVIE “THE DARKEST MINDS”

The Darkest Minds

“The Darkest Minds” is set in a very near future society where most of the nation’s children have perished – victims of a terrible disease. The surviving children are considered to be dangerous Enemies of the State because they possess extraordinary powers and therefore pose a threat to the government. Amandla Stenberg (Hunger Games, Everything Everything) plays Ruby, who escapes from the authorities and teams up with a group of other kids, including Liam, played by Harris Dickinson. They go on the run, using their powers, wits, and friendship to stay alive.

“The whole movie is a quest for this ‘slip kids’ camp,” says producer Shawn Levy. “And for this camp where supposedly kids live free, the character of Clancy [played by Patrick Gibson] is pretty critical because he runs this utopian kind of what could be a ‘Lord Of The Flies’, ‘Maze Runner’, kid-only civilization or outpost, with order, with kindness, with charisma. Travelling on the quest to the slip kids camp with Ruby and Liam are two other characters: Zu, played by Miya Cech and Chubs, played by Skylan Brooks.

“Zu is a nine, ten-year-old girl and Miya is a revelation – she’s this young actress at an age where you rarely find a great actress,” says Levy. “When Miya auditioned, her face was so expressive.  Her character doesn’t talk for ninety-five percent of the movie and that’s not easy.  So you need someone who is articulate without words.  And Miya, who is also crazily professional for such a young age, brings a heart achingly expressive quality to the character of Zu, who we learn, over the course of the movie, has been through real trauma – way more trauma than someone that age should ever have to go through.”

The other travel companion, Chubs brings an additional element to the mix.  “Chubs is not only a dimensional and authentic character the way all of our characters are,” says Levy, “but he brings a certain levity.  He kind of calls it like it is.  When he sees something brewing between Ruby and Liam, he’s going to name it even if it makes people uncomfortable.”

Another two very different female characters help round out the cast: Cate, a doctor who tries to help Ruby, and Lady Jane, a bounty hunter who hunts the children down.  “I knew early that we wanted Mandy Moore to play Cate,” says Levy. “We needed someone who had strength, but who also had real, immediately palpable warmth. That’s what we needed for the character of Cate, who is basically a savior of sorts.  And we need to believe in that and, with Mandy we do, instantly.”

 “Lady Jane is a bounty hunter and honestly, as soon as Gwendoline Christie came up as an idea, obviously, whether you’ve seen “Game of Thrones” or “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”, Gwendoline has a physical, imposing presence that is formidable and unique, but she’s also got such a range as an actress.”

Excited to sign on to the project, Christie explains, “After reading the script, I felt that it connected very strongly to our times, to our political situation, severe and deeply upsetting and awful refugee situations around the world, and that I think in terms of our media, we’re starting to, I hope, connect more with human beings that are seemingly different from us, and recognize that those differences aren’t so great after all. And that we can recognize, I hope, the humanity in each other, and what it is to need comfort, to need shelter, to need liberty, and of course love,” says Christie.

Based on the first installment of the trilogy by Alexandra Bracken, and infused with thrilling action, “The Darkest Minds” opens in theaters nationwide from 20th Century Fox.

HUNGER GAMES CHILD STAR AMANDLA STENBERG LEADS LATEST YA ACTION THRILLER “THE DARKEST MINDS”

 The Darkest Minds

The latest YA thrilling road trip movie “The Darkest Minds” trails surviving children who have been locked up in rehabilitation camps and are regarded as enemies of the state.  Starring in this bestselling book adaptation from author Alexandra Bracken are Hollywood’s up and coming exciting young actors – Amandla Stenberg (Hunger Games, Everything, Everything), Harris Dickinson (Beach Rats), , Miya Cech (American Horror Story), Skylan Brooks (Southpaw),  along with Mandy Moore (This Is Us), Patrick Gibson (The OA), Lidya Jewett (Hidden Figures)  and Gwendoline Christie (Game of Thrones).

                Set in a dystopian America, Ruby (Stenberg) woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that gets her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that’s killed most of America’s children, but she and the others have emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control.   When the truth comes out upon turning sixteen, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. She soon joins a group of kids who escaped their own camp. Liam (Dickinson), their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close.

                “This story is about a world that is not very different from ours,” observes Amandla Stenberg, who stars as Ruby Daly. “But some really drastic things have happened.  The majority of the population of children has died.  And the kids who are left have developed these mental abilities that are inexplicable.  And so, because of these abilities, the adults are afraid of them and they put them into camps.  And so, this particular story focuses on this girl who escapes from one of these camps and what happens when she finds a family of her own on the outside,”.

                “Casting Ruby was kind of the make-or-break decision on this film.  She’s in almost every frame and I confess, I’ve known Amandla for several years because she happened to have gone to the same school as my older daughters.  And so I would see Amandla in school plays.  And even when she was fourteen, it was very evident that this young woman was special.  She’s not only very commanding on a stage and on a screen, as Rue in ‘Hunger Games’, I saw her as a Teen Idol singing “Beauty School Dropout” in “Grease” and she was awesome as that, too!” says producer Shawn Levy.

                “The character of Ruby is pretty tough,” says Stenberg. “And she’s also kind of introverted, the way that she’s written in the book.  And so in bringing her to life on the screen, we thought about things that we can do to show all facets of her, because we’re unable to read into her mind like you can when you read the book. I think she is really passionate.  She stands her ground.  She knows what she wants. That’s what I like a lot about her.  But she’s also really thoughtful and kind of keeps to herself. I think she’s a lot like me.”

                In discussing what drew her to the project, Stenberg says, “The storyline and the meaning of the storyline was something that immediately excited me about this project. I think there are some parallels between this story and the world we’re living in today.

                From 20th Century Fox, road trip with the squad starts August 1 when “The Darkest Mind” opens in PH cinemas nationwide.