You may remember her as the adorable Rue alongside Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss in The Hunger Games. Now Amandla Stenberg is the star of a new young adult book adaptation, The Darkest Minds.
Based on the novel by Alexandra Bracken, The Darkest Minds is a sci-fi tale wherein children, when they reach the age of 10, develop a disease that either kills them or leaves them with life-altering special abilities. When these abilities are discovered, the kids are transported to government-controlled camps, where their powers are rated from ‘green’ (telekinesis) through to ‘orange’ (mind control).
Ruby (Amandla Stenberg) is an orange, and deemed highly dangerous. Before she can be terminated she escapes, and attempts to find her own way in the world.
Catching up with Stenberg in Sydney while promoting the film, she tells STACK that although she hadn’t read the novel before accepting the part, the script was too good to refuse.
“I hadn’t read [The Darkest Minds] before I got the script, but I read it after. I thought it was fantastic material. It’s so cool to be able to play a character from a book because you get to have all their internal dialogue and all this juicy stuff you probably wouldn’t get otherwise.”
Of course, Stenberg is no stranger to playing a character from a novel, having starred as scene-stealer Rue in the first Hunger Games movie. She notes that working on that film prepared her for something like The Darkest Minds.
“It helped me in different ways. Just having filmed through this experience before and knowing what it’s like to be a part of something that’s been adapted for the screen that has a big fanbase already. I feel like I learnt a lot from [The Hunger Games], and I learnt a lot from Jennifer [Lawrence] and all of the kids.
“I felt with Darkest Minds I was able to give the same experience to Miya [Cech, who plays Zu], because Miya is 11 years old and this is her first film. I felt like I was able to be friends with her, guide her, protect her and make sure she was safe and having fun while we were filming.”
On a set full of young actors, one can only imagine the shenanigans that transpired over the course of filming. Stenberg fondly recalls the day she was shooting the shopping mall scene with Harris Dickinson, who plays Liam.
“At one stage Harris and I are sent up flying up into the air and we crash into all these toys. We had so much fun filming that. We were actually put on to the cart for the scene and then I was shot across the floor, and we must have had too much fun, because Jennifer Yuh Nelson, the director, bless her heart, came up to us and was like, ’Alright guys, it’s looking really great but you have giant grins across your faces and your characters are supposed to be scared. Give me the proper reaction, that’d be great.’ Yes, we had a lot of fun doing that entire week of filming.”
And, of course, we had to find out what her ideal powers would be should she suddenly become a Mutant.
“I think that I would have the power of telekinesis. I think it could come in handy in a few ways, like in a really epic, fighting the government, Darkest Minds way. Or just when I’m really lazy, I won’t get off my ass, right? So just bringing the TV remote to me and all that kind of stuff.”