Mark Rylance to play The BFG

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Roald Dahl HQ
Posted on
3:15pm, 27th October
Mark Rylance to play Roald Dahl's The BFG, here illustrated by Sir Quentin Blake, in Steven Spielberg's forthcoming film adaptation

Steven Spielberg's forthcoming adaptation of Roald Dahl's The BFG has found its Big Friendly Giant in Mark Rylance

Three-time Tony Award winner and two-time Olivier Award winner Mark Rylance has been cast as the title character in The BFG, DreamWorks Studios announced today. Steven Spielberg will direct the adaptation of Roald Dahl’s much-loved children’s novel, which comes to the big screen in 2016.

Originally published in 1982, The BFG follows the dream-catching, gobblefunking Big Friendly Giant (who made his first appearance in Danny, the Champion of the World), his new friend Sophie and even the Queen of England, as they set out to stop the horrible Other Giants who live alongside The BFG in Giant Country and generally prefer eating human beans to catching dreams. 

“As I witnessed on stage, Mark Rylance is a transformational actor,” said Steven Spielberg. “I am excited and thrilled that Mark will be making this journey with us to Giant Country. Everything about his career so far is about making the courageous choice and I'm honored he has chosen The BFG as his next big screen performance.”

Luke Kelly, Managing Director of the Roald Dahl Literary Estate and Roald Dahl's grandson, said, “We are ecstatic at this choice. Mark is incredibly talented, one of the great British actors working today. I've had the privilege of seeing Mark perform, and the thought of watching him transform into ‘the only nice and jumbly Giant in Giant Country' is, as The BFG himself might say, absolutely phizz-whizzing.”

Mark Rylance is currently working with Steven Spielberg on an as-yet-untitled Cold War Spy Thriller, which stars Tom Hanks. His other upcoming projects include The GunmanDays and Nights, and the lead role of Thomas Cromwell in the much-anticipated BBC adaptation of Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall

It is often said that The BFG was Roald Dahl's favourite of his own stories. Certainly The Big Friendly Giant is a character that stayed with him - Roald used to pretend to blow dreams through the bedroom window of his children and grandchildren, just as The BFG did, and the character made an early appearance in Danny, the Champion of the World.

Now, more than thirty years after The BFG was first published, the book is available in 38 foreign languages, including Vietnamese, Korean, Ukrainian, Indonesian, Albanian, Estonian, Hebrew and Welsh. The BFG is known by many names around the world – in Italy, he’s IL GGG (“Grande Gigante Gentile”) and in Norway he is the SVK (“Stor Vennlig Kjempe”). In Poland, he’s the BFO (“Bardzo Fajny Olbrzym”), whilst in  Afrikaans, he’s DIE GSR (“Die Groot Sagmoedige Reus”). In 1989 - one year before Roald's death - the story was adapted as an animated TV film.

Production begins on The BFG in early 2015 and the movie is set to open in the U.S. on July 1, 2016, followed by the UK on July 22. 2016 also marks 100 years since Roald Dahl's birth, so it will be a year of celebrations. Best get the frobscottle on ice...

The BFG will be the latest major Roald Dahl title to be adapted for stage and screen, following films including Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971), James and the Giant Peach (1996), Matilda (1996), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) and Fantastic Mr Fox (2009). The phenomenally successful award-winning Roald Dahl's Matilda The Musical continues playing to packed audiences in the West End and on Broadway. In 2015, the show is set to open in Sydney and begin touring the USA. Additionally, over a million people have seen the West End musical production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, since its opening in June 2013.

Find out more about forthcoming BFG film and discover a few fascinating facts you may not know about The BFG...