“Us giants is making whizzpoppers all the time! Whizzpopping is a sign of happiness. It is music in our ears! You surely is not telling me that a little whizzpopping is forbidden among human beans?” – The BFG
“The BFG”, which means “Big Friendly Giant”, is based on a well-love children’s book written by British author Roald Dahl, who is known for writing several popular storybooks including “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”, “Mathilda”, “Fantastic Mr. Fox”, and “The Witches”.
Helmed by Academy Award-winning director Steven Spielberg, the story centres around a 10-year-old orphaned girl named Sophie (played by Ruby Barnhill), who lives in an orphanage in London, and her friendship with a 24-foot giant aka BFG (played by Mark Rylance), whose job is to deliver pleasant dreams to children. As their friendship grows, Sophie’s presence attracts the unwanted attention of Bloodbottler (played by Bill Hader), Fleshlumpeater (played by Jemaine Clement), and other giants. After traveling to London, Sophie and the BFG must convince Queen Victoria (played by Penelope Wilton) to help them get rid of all the bad giants once and for all.
So before you watch Spielberg’s adaption of the classic storybook, here are some gigantic fun facts about the film that you might not have known about:
1. “The BFG” started off as a scribble in Roald Dahl’s “Ideas Books”
“The BFG” began as a note in one of Roald Dahl’s “Ideas Books” – old school exercise books he used to write down any inspiration for a story that came to him. The scribbles, which were scrawled in pencil, were revisited years later and published when the writer was 66 years old. His “Ideas Books” are now currently stored in the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre archive. “The BFG” is also said to have been Dahl’s personal favourite of all the stories he wrote.
2. Sophie is the name of Roald Dahl’s first granddaughter
In the yearly drafts, the lead child character of the story was actually a little boy named Jody. Jody was soon transformed into a little girl named Sophie, who shares the same name as the author’s first grandchild. Yes, we’re talking former fashion model Sophie Dahl, who is also an English author herself, having published her own book as well regularly contributing to several well-known publications such as American Vogue, The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Observer, and the Saturday Times. We guess the flair for writing runs in the family, eh? ;)
3. Steven Spielberg has always wanted to bring “The BFG” to the big screen
In a recent press conference, Steven Spielberg revealed that he became familiar with the book even before directing it. Apparently, he read it to his 7 children as they grew up, often acting out the voice of the BFG out loud to them. “I think it was kind of genius of Roald Dahl to be able to empower the children. It was very, very brave of him to introduce that combination of darkness and light which was so much like Disney’s original signature in a lot of their earlier works such as Dumbo (1941) and Fantasia (1940). He was able to do scary, but also be redemptive at the same time and teach 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,” he said. This is also the director’s first Disney movie.
4. Mark Rylance and Steve Spielberg’s “bromance”
After “Bridge of Spies” (2015), this is the 2nd collaboration between Mark Rylance and Steve Spielberg. The director has nothing but praise for the actor, saying that Rylance is a rare actor that he actually considers a “real-life BFF”. “I feel very lucky that I got to meet Mark, and even luckier that we became friend. I have a lot of acquaintances (over the past) 44 years of directing television and film. I haven’t brought a lot of people in my life from the movies,” said Spielberg. Aww :)
5. The film was in development for 25 years
“The BFG” has been in development since 1991, with the co-founders of Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment, producers Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall, setting up the groundwork with Paramount Pictures. But it wasn’t until 2014 that Steven Spielberg was announced as director. Although there were many screenwriters involved in the writing process, the final screenplay for the new Disney version was written by Melissa Mathison (from “Kundun” and “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial”) before her death in 2015.
6. This is 2nd film adaption of “The BFG” and Disney’s first collaboration since 1981
The first adaption was released in 1989 as an animated TV movie and it was broadcasted across UK’s terrestrial ITV television network on Christmas Day that year. Directed by Brian Cosgrove (from “Danger Mouse”), the very well-received film was dedicated to animator George Jackson (from “The Lion, the Witch, & the Wardrobe“), who died in 1986. “The BFG” is also Walt Disney Pictures first collaborative production in 35 years as the film is co-produced by Reliance Entertainment and Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment. The last film Disney co-produced was “Dragonslayer” (1981) with Paramount Pictures.
7. Actor Ólafur Darri Ólafsson is a real-life giant!
Icelandic actor Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, who plays Maidmasher the giant in “The BFG”, is actually 6ft5in (195cm) tall! He recently told Digital Spy that he didn’t even have to audition for the role. “I met Nina Gold, the casting director, last year, and then out of the blue there was this interest by Steven (Spielberg) and her to get me to do the movie. And Steven, it was quite amazing, there was no audition or anything he just makes up his mind and you’ve got the part. That was really trusting and I hope I can live up to that,” he said.
8. Robin Williams was originally in mind for the lead role
Before Mark Rylance was casted as The BFG, Emmy award-winning actor Robin Williams was the person producers originally wanted for the role of the lead giant in the early stages of development. But due to the fact that they couldn’t get around technological problems of bringing the story to the big screen at that time, Williams, who passed away in August 2014, never got to play the role. But according to producer Kathleen Kennedy, he carried out many cast readings with them prior to his death. “Robin spent a lot of time with us actually doing cast readings and he was hilarious. He would have been a great BFG,” she told Entertainment Weekly.
9. Child star Ruby Barnhil was sent to audition to learn about rejection, but got chosen for the lead role instead
12-year-old Ruby Branhill was allowed to attend the audition only because her parents hoped she would fail and it would put her off wanting to be an actress. Little did they know that she passed with flying colours! “My dad is an actor and he didn’t want me to go through the sort of things he went through and he said to Mum, ‘Why don’t we get Ruby to do an audition? She won’t get the part and she will learn about rejection’. Well that really backfired,” she said. Spielberg also gave her father a role as the queen’s footman. Well, that’s double the joy for the Barnhill family :)
Watch the trailer for “The BFG” below:
And there you have it folks, all you need to know about Disney’s “The BFG”. Are you excited to meet Sophie and her giant friend now? ;)
Slated to hit Malaysian cinemas on 25th August 2016, the movie also stars Rebecca Hall, Rafe Spall, Bill Hader, Michael David Adamthwaite, and Daniel Bacon.
For more information, visit the film’s official Facebook page.