We were thrilled to learn that Steven Spielberg was returning to one of the genres at which he excels – family entertainment – when he announced he’d be adapting Roald Dahl’s classic book The BFG. We’ve been tracking down all the information out there about the big friendly giant and his new big screen adventure. Crack open a bottle of frobscottle and read on…
Director: Steven Spielberg
After a few years of films with the stately grandeur of Lincoln and the tense thrills of Bridge Of Spies, the director, currently going through one of his prolific phases, announced he would turn his attention to Roald Dahl’s The BFG in April 2014, after his company DreamWorks grabbed the rights back in 2011.
I think it was kind of genius of Roald Dahl to be able to empower the children.
It’s something Spielberg has wanted to do for some time now. “I think it was kind of genius of Roald Dahl to be able to empower the children,” he says. “It was very, very brave of him to introduce that combination of darkness and light, and being able to do scary, but also be redemptive at the same time and teach a lesson, an enduring lesson, to everyone. It was a wonderful thing for Dahl to have done, and it was one of the things that attracted me to want to direct this book.”
Writer: Melissa Mathison
Mathison, who sadly died last month, wrote the script, reigniting a creative partnership that resulted in E.T., and the film should stand as a fitting tribute to her work. “I found working with Melissa that those 30-plus years had evaporated,” Spielberg told Time. “It was just like being back in the cutting room on Raiders sitting on the floor with a bunch of cards strewn about, trying to figure out that story.” Mathison was on set every day for the new film and Spielberg says that she was “more than just a writing partner—she was a real on-set partner.”
Mark Rylance, Rebecca Hall, Penelope Wilton, Jemaine Clement, Bill Hader, Ruby Barnhill, Adam Godley, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, Michael Adamthwaite, Marilyn Norry, Callum Seagram Airlie, Andy Thompson, Haig Sutherland, Graham Curry.
The BFG will be out in America on July 1, 2016, looking to capture the key July 4 holiday weekend. The UK release date is set for July 22.
Though he is a giant himself, the BFG (Rylance) is nothing like the other huge creatures he lives alongside, and he’s something of an outsider in Giant Country. With his big ears, keen and sense of smell, he’s a little dimwitted, but kind and friendly. He likes nothing better than to collect dreams and send them to children in the night. His fellow, bigger giants, such as Bloodbottler (Hader) and Fleshlumpeater (Clement) would prefer to eat them, and that causes problems. When the BFG meets young, precocious Sophie (Barnhill), he takes her back to his cave and explains all about giant culture and his dream abilities. But Sophie’s presence has attracted the unwanted attention of the other giants, and soon she and her 24-foot-tall new friend will have to find a way to convince the Queen (Wilton) and her maid Mary (Hall) that they need a plan to get rid of the bad giants once and for all. “It’s a story about friendship,” explains Spielberg. “It’s a story about loyalty and protecting your friends and it’s a story that shows that even a little girl can help a big giant solve his biggest problems.”
It’s a story about loyalty and protecting your friends.
Spielberg has regular collaborator John Williams, who has scored almost all of his movies, writing the music.
Shooting took in spring and summer this year in Vancouver, Canada; in London and Buckingham Palace; at Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire; and on Scotland’s Isle of Skye. Spielberg was still in post-production on Bridge Of Spies when he started work on The BFG, because apparently he’s not busy enough.
Mark Rylance is The BFG
Rylance, an actor, director and playwright is probably best known in the UK for his stage work and TV’s Wolf Hall. But it was while working on Bridge Of Spies as Rudolf Abel that Spielberg decided he was the perfect person to provide the performance capture and voice for the BFG. “Mark Rylance is one of the most extraordinary actors working anywhere. I saw him on the stage in Twelfth Night and that pretty much cinched it for me and I asked him to play him the part of the spy,” he has said about the actor’s casting in his espionage drama. Rylance didn’t realise at first that he was being sounded out about The BFG: “He asked me to read the script and I didn’t really realise he was asking me to read it because he wanted me to do it!” But he soon embraced his inner BFG, right up to mastering whizzpopping, the somewhat flatulent result of drinking frobscottle. He flies with his whizzpopping, too!” Rylance tells Empire. “He lifts up, he lifts off his seat. I remember a flying rig so that lifts me when I whizzpop and then I come back down onto my seat. I remember a couple of big strong Canadian men pulling on ropes so that I'd be lifted up and dropped again with the force of my whizzpopping.”
Ruby Barnhill is Sophie
The BFG marks 11-year-old Barnhill’s first film, but she has been acting since the age of eight in various school and other productions, and played Isobel on the BBC’s 4 O’Clock Club. “I feel incredibly lucky and I’m so happy,” she said after her casting last year. “Sophie gets to go on this wonderful adventure and I’m so excited that I get to play her.”
Bill Hader is Bloodbottler
Saturday Night Live veteran Hader, who is an experienced voice-over performer, was hired to play Bloodbottler through performance capture on set like Rylance. And he clearly had a good time working with Spielberg. “It was insane,” he recalls. “Just freaking out the entire time. And he is also a giant film fan and he goes to great lengths to make you feel comfortable around him. And he will honestly, man, you’d be like, 'Jaws, go.’ And he’ll go, ‘All right,’ and he’ll just go into an hour worth of stories. He’ll tell you anything you wanna know.”
Jemaine Clement is Fleshlumpeater
Best known for his work in Flight Of The Conchords, Clement is playing fellow giant Fleshlumpeater, who sounds like the sort of nasty piece of work he could make hilarious. “We worked motion capture for three months doing that,” he explains. “And I think it's gonna be pretty great. I can't wait to see it. I think the graphics, they were doing some interesting things that sort of merging the graphics with real life. I think it will be really cool.”