Gobblefunk! Roald Dahl adaptation The BFG looms into view this summer and indications are it'll be a corker: directed by legendary Jurassic Park filmmaker Steven Spielberg from a script by late E.T. scribe Melissa Mathieson, there's every chance this will do justice to Dahl's beloved children's novel.
Playing the eponymous Big Friendly Giant is one of Britain's greatest actors, Mark Rylance, fresh from his compellingly enigmatic, Oscar nominated role as Rudolf Abel in Spielberg's Bridge of Spies. The versatile star of stage, screen and TV now sets about a completely different character, bringing to life the towering being who forms an unexpected bond with young orphan Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) after he takes her back to his giant-inhabited world.
"It was a thrill," Rylance tells Entertainment Weekly. "It’s a book everyone loves very much, so you feel quite responsible. It was an absolute thrill, and Steven loves the story so much, so he was laughing a lot — and crying, I think. And excited at the things we were finding. It was very, very playful."
Rylance is one of several actors among an international ensemble including Flight of the Conchords' Jemaine Clement and Trainwreck's Bill Hader, both of whom play the more terrifying inhabitants of the movie's fantastical landscape.
However, one thing all the actors had in common was the need to don a motion capture suit, the process of acting whilst wearing a suit covered in special dots that is interpreted as physical movement by a computer. Stage veteran Rylance, who garnered extensive acclaim for his performance in Jerusalem, says this was an intriguing new experience for him.
"It’s motion capture, like the way Andy Serkis made Gollum," he explains. "I found the technical situation, once I got used to it and Steven got used to it, it was very liberating. Because you didn’t have to hit marks. The whole setup was very much like a playroom."
We get the feeling the entire movie is going to be something of a fun-filled playroom for Spielberg, Rylance and the rest of the cast, which also includes Rebecca Hall and Penelope Wilton. The BFG arrives in Cineworld on 22nd July.