Mark Rylance heads to Giant Country in Steven Spielberg's film The BFG

The darling of the theatre world is swapping Shakespeare for the silver screen in a new adaption of Roald Dahl's classic

Matilda Battersby
Tuesday 28 October 2014 09:31
The BFG - Quentin Blake's illustration of the Dahl character and orphan Sophie
The BFG - Quentin Blake's illustration of the Dahl character and orphan Sophie

He grabbed the world’s attention as Rooster Byron in Jez Butterworth’s smash hit theatre production Jerusalem. But now Mark Rylance is set to play another loner on the fringes of society – but this hermit has a rather higher profile in more ways than one.

The Shakespearean actor has been cast as the BFG (Big Friendly Giant) in Steven Spielberg’s film adaptation of the much-loved Roald Dahl children’s book.

“As I witnessed on stage, Mark Rylance is a transformational actor,” Spielberg told The Hollywood Reporter.

"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 honoured he has chosen The BFG as his next big screen performance."

Mark Rylance as Johnny 'Rooster' Byron in Jerusalem

The story, about a giant who is befriended by a young orphan called Sophie (whom the author named after his granddaughter, the model and TV chef Sophie Dahl), has sold millions of copies around the world in more than 30 languages.

It was made into a popular film animation in 1989.

Production for the new Dreamworks movie is due to start next year with the film planned to be in cinemas in 2016. The film studio first acquired the rights in 2011.

Rylance, who we will next see on TV playing Thomas Cromwell in the BBC's version of Hilary Mantel's award-winning novels (Wolf Hall, Bring Up the Bodies), is a renowned stage actor and was artistic director of Shakespeare's Globe for many years.

Mark Rylance in Wolf Hall

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