For many LGBTQ fans Matilda, The amiable Miss Honey marks a strange awakening.
but lashana lynch Didn’t know this when I signed on to play an elementary school teacher netflix Stage Play Film Adaptation Roald Dahl’s musical Matilda.
“Until I saw some comments on social media and I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, this is a revelation for me,'” she told EW’s Spot the Corner Matilda fan.
She then turned to a friend of hers for more information. “A gay friend of mine said to me after I was cast, ‘Oh my god. She was like my gay idol growing up,'” recalls Lynch. “I was like, ‘Tell me more. What did you see? What was that? Is there anything I need to know?'”
Without a doubt, the actress in the 1996 film, abeth davids, bringing a special energy to a character beloved by queer audiences. But Lynch said she thought there was something unique about Miss Honey that made her a point of connection for people.
“When a character is loved, it’s everything about you, it speaks to all people, all races, all genders, all walks of life, then that’s the perfect character,” she reflects. “You don’t have to do anything other than exist, every community is going to get what they need from this guy. It’s really special. That’s a secret sauce. If you can have that in every movie or every play or book, everyone from all walks of life can take something from it.”
“It’s really special,” Lynch concluded. “I never knew, but I’m happy.”
Ahead of the film’s Christmas release on Netflix, we caught up with Lynch about her first starring role in a musical, singing live and why she loved Matilda since she was a kid.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: We’ve never seen you in a musical before, but was that what you grew up doing? Have you always been a singer?
LASHANA LYNCH: I grew up singing and acting separately. The musical came late. This appreciation comes from seeing musicals throughout the school and drama school and learning more about them. But no, I didn’t expect to be part of a musical at all, so it was a complete surprise.
So how do you do this?
I got a call from my agent saying [director] Matthew Vaux Want to hear me sing the iconic Miss Honey song from the musical. I’m confused how they see me and why. It’s been a long time since I sang, although I sang first and then acted. Not many people in the industry know about it. I sent a voicemail of me singing at home and turned into Zoom to discuss the character. Then I went in and sang in a glass COVID-safe box. Then he called me the character directly, which was great. It all happened very quickly, but also beautifully. This surprised me.
have you grown up Matilda either Roald Dahl In all?
Yes. Matilda is one of my favorite books. James and the Big Peaches Too. I also love this movie.I watched it back to back and Matilda It was one of those books I re-read as a kid. There are certain books you reread, and that was definitely one of them. I am Matilda in my head. Miss Harney is my queen in shining armor (laugh). As she does to a lot of people. I really love storytelling and the details and escapist adventures of storytelling, which is exactly what I was looking for as a kid. This is true for me. A lot of things surprised me, even talking to you about this character, because it was a childhood favorite. It’s like watching Disney princesses as a kid and being a Disney princess. when do you think about it
It sounds like you’re a real nerd.
I wouldn’t say I read everything under the sun, but I like diving into the thoughts in a book rather than sitting down and reading.I prefer to feel the inner story and want to go back to that escapism after school and on the weekends; whenever I get the chance to dive into another world, it’s Matilda is for me.
Well, Roald Dahl isn’t wary of kids either. People are really bad at his stories. But what was it like to play the opposite of that?
I believe young minds are always more advanced than we think. Children are such sponges, so open minded and convinced, and talking to them like children can sometimes backfire when they know so much or have the potential to do so. The fact that Roald Dahl speaks to them like a human seems advanced, but in reality he’s just doing what many young people call for. We can do normal human things as long as they talk to us like human beings. It’s great to be able to play someone like Miss Honey, who sees children as human beings who have the potential to become bigger, fancier, more amazing humans when they grow up. But at their young age, they were able to achieve so much. Glad he wrote this book for young people, we grew up on his words and were able to think big for ourselves. That’s one of the things I learned from his book as a kid – our brains can be as big as we want them to be.
you literally keep kicking ass on the screen captain marvel with no time to die. Since it’s not stunt driven, does it feel slower or challenging in a different way?
I’ve been playing a character like Miss Harney for years without knowing it would take on the form of Miss Harney. I wanted something subtle to show range, show vulnerability, deep emotion, and really tell the world through my work where the power comes from. Where does the power of women come from, where does the power of black women come from. To be able to do that in the most subtle way with a character who really finds his way of life through his kids is not something I could have imagined. But it fits my idea perfectly. Being able to get away with a strong character like Maria Rambeau or Nomi. They’re all characters we’ll love for a long time, but they also inspire young people to pursue things that sometimes surpass them. That’s not to say you can’t be a fighter pilot, a secret agent, or a member of the military. You can absolutely do it. But we also need to show the world that you can do it with a bug. You can do this by finding yourself looking for what you want to do in life. Miss Honey is a great example of a reminder that power can sometimes be hard to come by, and that sometimes to get it you have to take the most unorthodox paths. But when you do get there, you’ll find a garden of inspiration and well-being, releasing trauma and things that hold you back from becoming your higher self.
The casting made Trunchbull’s mistreatment of Miss Honey all the more complicated and insidious because you’re a black woman.that’s you and Matthew and Emma Thompson Have you discussed it?
The great thing about remaking a movie is that the story will always be the story. When something needs to change because of gender or race, you have a good discussion about that and deal with it. But one of the amazing things Matthew does is not discuss race. We don’t need to, because we’re the teachers and students in the movie – human beings are human beings. It’s a beautiful and subtle way of normalizing the humanization of black women on screen. You just put them on the screen and tell the story. Vote who you want, and if they happen to be black, the character happens to be black. Let the audience decide for themselves what they want from a character’s game and what they want out of it. But it doesn’t have to be a conversation. I love that it’s not her and the students. They just see light and inspiration in this wonderful man who sees them as human. This is exactly how we need to treat black women in film.
What do you find the most challenging aspect of this? Is it singing?
Between singing and playing Miss Honey for months of high anxiety. It’s a real challenge for her to stay in that mental state for so long. I always want to discuss mental health. It is also important for me to discuss this issue among young people. It’s a great opportunity to make it live comfortably in this story. The song I sang before the performance made me half comfortable. But we also sing live. We sang every note live on set every day. Weather conditions, how it feels during the day, moving around, singing to the kids, reminding yourself that this is an inspiring story – there are a lot of issues to contend with when singing live. It took months of training to get my voice to a level beyond the studio.
Do you want to do another musical?
I would love to do another musical at some point in my life. I get itchy feet quickly with new things. I’ve been in an action space for a while and want to slide out of it and into something more vulnerable. Now I’m doing something flimsy, a musical. I want to slide into other things that challenge me. If I go to a musical right now, there will be some comfort, which is counter to my goal. But yes, at some point in life. Now, a little more discomfort would be nice.