For the first time ever, Steven Spielberg will be in the director’s chair for a Disney movie, as the studio has officially signed on to co-produce and co-finance the adaptation of Roald Dahl’s The BFG. Filming recently started in Vancouver, and the cast is in place to bring Dahl’s beloved children’s book to life.
Cast as the titular character – Big Friendly Giant – is Tony Award-winner Mark Rylance, and set to play the main character, Sophie, is newcomer Ruby Barnhill. Joining Rylance and Barnhill are Bill Hader (The Skeleton Twins), Jemaine Clement (HBO’s Flight of the Conchords), who will play giants. Also along for the ride are Penelope Wilton (The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) as the Queen of England, and Rebecca Hall (The Town) as Mary, the Queen’s maid. The children’s book is set in and around London as Sophie, a young girl, meets the BFG and is introduced to the wonders and perils of Giant Country.
Spielberg is also co-producing the film with Frank Marshall and Kathleen Kennedy, from a screenplay adaptation by Melissa Mathison (Kundun, E.T.). Other production companies for the film include Amblin Entertainment (Spielberg’s company), as well as DreamWorks and Walden Media. The BFG is actually a continuation of a previously published Dahl story called Danny, the Champion of the World. Other Dahl works that have been adapted for the big screen include Matilda (1996), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1971 and 2005), and James and the Giant Peach (1996). The BFG was originally published in 1982 and was the source for a previous, animated adaptation made back in 1989.
The BFG will be released in theaters on July 1, 2016, coinciding with the 100th anniversary of Roald Dahl’s birth.