The BFG Movie Press Interviews

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The day after seeing the wonderfully magical film “The BFG“, I had the experience every movie buff dreams of: Getting to an interview with Stephen Spielberg. Along with getting to hear about Spielberg’s passion for bring the Roald Dahl book to life, I also had the pleasure of hearing from the film’s stars Academy Award-Winner Mark Ryland (BFG), Ruby Barnhill (Sophie), and Dame Penelope Wilton (The Queen).

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Penelope Wilton amazed me in the film, she is such a chameleon that I at first didn’t recognize that she was the actress playing a 1986 Queen Elizabeth in “The BFG.” This film was Wilton’s first experience working with Spielberg, and she absolutely loved the experience. She said he is a very hands-on director, and very quick to shoot each scene since he provides such clear direction to his actors. Roald Dahl was a British author, and she described his stories as being “very British” in humor, with a very British take on life. She feels that “The BFG” movie turned out incredible since the film is the result of a great storyteller (Dahl) combined with a great filmmaker (Spielberg). This particular role was especially fun for Wilton to take on, as she not only got to portray the Queen, but she was able to play a version of the Queen that was in a fantasy world, and she enjoyed getting to interpret a Queen Elizabeth that was part reality and part fantasy.

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This film was Mark Rylance’s second film with Spielberg, having previously been in “Bridge of Spies”. Rylance mentioned that he is in fact, the first actor to do two consecutive films with Spielberg, and they have four more films they plan to do together. Rylance said that Spielberg always changes his technical processes for each of his films, and is one to always take on new risks and challenges. Rylance enjoys this fun type of chaos as an actor, and loves the spontaneity on set that results from it. Something the actor quite enjoyed in filming “The BFG” was getting to always film his scenes one on one with Ruby Barnhill. Often times movies with children have the actors film in with a stand-in, since minors can’t work as many hours on set. Rylance recalled that the chemistry between him and the young actress was amazing, and that they brought the best out of each other’s performances, so they made it work to always work with each other directly.

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Rylance is very versed in Shakespeare, and was even the previous artistic director at The Globe Theater in England. I asked him in the interview session if his training and experience with Shakespeare’s unique language helped him with his having to tackle another uncommon language in “The BFG” (referring to the giant speak, Gobblefunk). He said that he felt a lot of relation between Shakespeare’s use of words, and Dahl’s Gobblefunk vernacular. They both experiment with words just for pleasure; for the joy of how they sound. They focus on having their consonants sound appealing to the ear, and put a focus on the beauty of words. Rylance said that in our present day where scientific and mathematical words dominate our language, its a nice change of pace to have fun with words.

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This was actress Ruby Barnhill’s very first film, but with her father being a British actor she has grown up in the world of acting. She had previously done acting classes and theater, but working on a film was a new and wonderful experience for her (albeit challenging). Barnhill said that it was fun getting to play Sophie, since she can be independent, and bossy, and these are things you aren’t typically allowed to be as a child. Her character overall though has a warm heart and is a sensitive soul, so Barnhill was excited to get to portray a character with such a wide range of emotions. She feels she has grown so much from this experience, and two of the greatest things she learned on set was concentration, and that it’s okay to make mistakes.

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Director Stephen Spielberg was nice and easy to talk to, and his passion for this film clearly showed through. Spielberg explained that one of his major attractions to making “The BFG” into a movie was that it was about a young girl. Spielberg has always admired that Walt Disney prominently featured strong women characters, and Sophie, having such “true grit” when facing a 20 ft giant, reminded him of the strong young women Walt Disney featured in his films.  He also loved that this story is about conversation, not only playing with conversation through Gobblefunk, but also about creating a friendship through conversation. It was a film that once he read the book he knew he had to bring to screen, and meant a great deal ti him. Spielberg liked that he had never done a film like this before, that involved this much magic and fantasy. He spent about three years working on the film, and the moment he wrapped he realized how deeply in love he had fallen with the project.

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The actors and Spielberg definitely seemed like a tight knit group, who like Spielberg all seemed to fall in love with their characters and the story, and formed true friendships on-screen and off. “The BFG” can be seen in U.S. theaters July 1st.

Photo Credit: Disney

The BFG Movie Press Interviews

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