Octavia Spencer has been cast as God. Spencer says she’s not doing any special prep work for the role.
“You don’t prepare for God.”
Three reasons why Octavia should play the role:
- She understands subtlety on screen
- The audience accepts her quiet strength
- She can play the Divine with authority.
The role will be intensive. The Shack is a Christian novel by Canadian author William P. Young.The title of the book is a metaphor for “the house you build out of your own pain”, as Young explained in a telephone interview. He also told radio host talk show Drew Marshall that The Shack “is a metaphor for the places you get stuck, you get hurt, you get damaged…the thing where shame or hurt is centered.
The main character is Mackenzie Allen Philips, a father of five, called “Mack” by his family and friends.
Four years prior to the main events of the story, Mack takes three (of his five) children on a camping trip to Wallowa Lakenear Joseph, Oregon stopping at Multnomah Falls on the way. Two of his children are playing in a canoe when it flips and almost drowns Mack’s son. Mack is able to save his son by rushing to the water and freeing him from the canoe’s webbing, but unintentionally leaves his youngest daughter Missy alone at their campsite. After Mack returns, he sees that Missy is missing. The police are called, and the family discovers that Missy has been abducted and murdered by a serial killer known as the “Little Ladykiller.” The police find an abandoned shack in the woods where Missy was taken. Her bloodied clothing is found but her body is not located. Mack’s life sinks into what he calls “The Great Sadness”.
As the novel begins, Mack receives a note in his mailbox from “Papa,” saying that he would like to meet with Mack that coming weekend at the shack. Mack is puzzled by the note—he has had no relationship with his abusive father since he left home at age 13. He suspects that the note may be from God, whom his wife Nan refers to as “Papa.”
Mack’s family leaves to visit relatives and he goes alone to the shack, unsure of what he will see there. He arrives and initially finds nothing, but as he is leaving, the shack and its surroundings are supernaturally transformed into a lush and inviting scene. He enters the shack and encounters manifestations of the three persons of the Trinity. God the Father takes the form of an African American woman who calls herself Elousia and Papa; Jesus Christ is a Middle-Eastern carpenter; and the Holy Spirit physically manifests itself as an Asian woman named Sarayu.
The bulk of the book narrates Mack’s conversations with Papa, Jesus, and Sarayu as he comes to terms with Missy’s death and his relationship with the three of them. Mack also has various experiences with each of them. Mack walks across a lake with Jesus, sees an image of his father in heaven with Sarayu, and has a conversation with Sophia, the personification of God’s wisdom.
At the end of his visit, Mack goes on a hike with Papa, who shows him where Missy’s body was left in a cave. The rest of the book engages you on a spiritual quest. Octavia has the full form to play God’s likeness in this book.
The role looks like another strong opportunity for Spencer, who won an Academy award for her role in “The Help.”
Spencer has been busy since her Oscar win, balancing her time between dramas, tentpoles and TV roles. In 2014, she appeared in “Snowpiercer,” James Brown biopic “Get on Up,” and Relativity drama “Black and White,” for which she received some of her strongest reviews since “The Help.”
This year she will be seen next in “Insurgent,” the follow-up to the box office hit “Divergent,” followed by Voltage pic “Fathers and Daughters.”
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